TfL’s existing funding agreement with the government has been extended to the end of the month while both sides continue to negotiate over a long term funding settlement.

TfL’s Finance Committee held a meeting today to discuss the financing situation as the current £1.6 billion funding agreement to keep TfL running during the lockdown and slow recovery was due to expire tomorrow, leaving TfL facing a critical decision.

In theory, TfL could have been forced to shut-down most of its services, and although always considered to be highly unlikely, the possibility remained a worrying Damocelan sword hanging over TfL.

With the collapse in fares income and TfL being, by international standards, unusually highly dependent on fares to cover its costs, the organisation is losing around £45 million a week, which is unsustainable.

TfL has asked for a funding settlement of £2 billion for the second half of this financial year – taking it to the end of March 2021, and a further £2.9 billion for the following year — to March 2022. The Department for Transport sent over a proposal for further funding to TfL a week ago, and the two sides have been in negotiation ever since.

With the 17th October deadline looking likely to be missed, the two sides have agreed to extend the current funding agreement — to 31st October — Halloween.

Fortunately, improvements in passengers on tubes and buses means that not all of the £1.6 billion agreed back in May has been spent, so no more money is needed to keep them running until the end of this month.

What was unmentioned though was Crossrail. Although it has enough money for existing contracts to run until next March, the financial authority to sign new contracts is expected to expire imminently, and a deal on funding that is also needed.

The details of the discussion between the DfT and TfL are still private, but leaked suggestions that the DfT wants the road congestion charge zone extended considerably all the way out to the north and south circular roads was effectively confirmed.

The congestion zone was introduced in 2003, and is still one of the largest in the world, even after the Western Extension, which operated between 2007 and 2011 was removed. The suggested expansion would increase the area covered roughly 10-fold.

Part of the argument for the current congestion zone is that most of the public transport is aligned with bringing people into central London, so the congestion charge would persuade some people to swap cars for trains, and the funding would support public transport improvements. However, the larger proposed zone encompasses many more commuter routes running around the central zone that are not as well supported by public transport.

Someone living in, for example, Oval needing to get to south-east London is not going to find it anything like as convenient to switch to public transport.

That is just one of the many issues being debated behind closed doors while Londoners wait to find out what the eventual outcome will be.

TfL’s Commissioner, Andy Byford said that they are “edging towards a deal”, but TfL only has until Halloween to iron out the differences.

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4 comments on “TfL has until Halloween to secure a long term funding deal
  1. Sykobee says:

    It does feel like quite a large step from the current congestion zone to one that fills in the whole of London from the North Circular to the South Circular (I presume it will exclude some major throughfares).

    But if it is going to happen, TfL would like to point to the DfT and say ‘it’s not us, it’s them’ surely? But I do feel that this is political, and the government aiming to get the blame onto Khan.

  2. Melvyn says:

    I would agree to expanded C Charge on condition it was fully operational by 1st April 2021 ( I.e just before Mayoral Election) with Boris Johnson doing the official switch on !

    Of course it would be better split into several separate zones with any future residents discount only applying to residents zone only !

    As for North and South circulars well the North Circular does at least exist as a main road around north London. However, the South Circular consists mainly of a random selection of roads which have red route markings and are not even thhe largest road in some places so forming a C Zone boundary would be haphazard at best and confusing with cars entering and leaving the zone by simply driving along the same stretch of road !

    Best start by reintroduced WEZ which Prime Minister Boris Johnson abolished !

  3. Graeme says:

    I don’t know but I’ve found the 436 or 36 pretty good at getting me to South East London

  4. Adam Edwards says:

    The logic surely is congestion charge reduces car traffic making walking and cycling safer and more popular (especially if reinforced by Low Traffic Neighbourhoods) and busses will be faster and more reliable too. The South Circular is a bit arbitary but it’s a known route so easily understood. How long before we have a outer boundary at the M25?

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