The opening salvo in the forthcoming Mayoral elections has been fired, with Sadiq Khan offering free travel for carers on London transport.
Although around 180,000 people with disabilities currently receive free travel on TfL services, for a sizeable portion, they also need support from a carer, who has to pay for their own travel.
If elected, Sadiq Khan has pledged to introduce a ‘companion pass’ for disabled Londoners who need a companion such as a carer to be able to travel, allowing whoever they travel with to accompany them for free.
In his statement, Sadiq Khan said that if “re-elected, he will expect TfL to get to work on the policy on day one of his second Mayoral term”, although it’s highly likely that TfL will already be working on the scheme, as they would for each candidate policy announcement to assess its impact.
The current disability Freedom Pass is largely funded by the local councils where the recipient lives, with grant support from Government, the companion pass would be funded by TfL. The cost of the Freedom Pass came in at £332 million for 2013/14, but that figure includes travel passes for people over 65, which makes up the bulk of the usage.
The allocation for the freedom pass for people with disabilities would be around £40 million, so the cost to TfL for the companion pass is likely to be in the low millions.
Details are to be worked out, but the presumption is that the pass will be in the name of the London Freedom pass holder, not their companion, allowing it to be used by different people they may travel with at different times.