Regardless of who is the Mayor after the next Mayoral elections, the fares freeze on the railways will come to an end.
The current Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has confirmed that while he will keep the London buses Hopper Fares during his next term, if reelected, fares on the London Underground, Overground and DLR are set to rise.
With the ongoing issues with delayed revenues from the Elizabeth line and a growing backlog of maintenance needed on the transport network, the fares freeze was starting to look less politically sustainable. TfL is currently looking for an additional £400-£650 million to complete Elizabeth line construction, and it misses out on around £1.2 billion in revenue phased in over the next four years had the line opened on time.
The decision to kill off the fares freeze is not a huge surprise though, as TfL’s own business plans are based on fares starting to rise from next year, but while TfL aimed for fare rises slightly above inflation, Sadiq Khan has committed to keeping fare rises to no faster than inflation during his term in office and would “explore cheaper fares for off-peak and weekend travel”
That promise may be foreshadowed by his original pledge which only applied to TfL fares, but that caveat wasn’t clearly communicated, and with many people travelling over National Rail services, they saw their fares rise each year anyway.
According to Ben Rogers, Director of Centre for London, since the freeze was implemented, the cost of a weekly Travelcard for zones 1-4 has risen by nearly 10 percent. This time the prospective Mayor has been much clearer that lower off-peak fares is simply being explored as an option.
The unknown factor in the election though is the unexpected one — it may be delayed for a year due to the Coronavirus.