Friday 8 April 2016

This week Zac Goldsmith announced that he would raise £25m to pay for an extra 500 police on the Tube by scrapping TfL staff nominee passes, a variation on last year’s proposal by Andrew Boff and the Tories on the London Assembly to “save” TfL £22.3m a year, utter nonsense then and utter nonsense now.  Rather than being the equivalent of a Zone 1-6 travelcard as claimed nominee passes are valid on TfL services only so if TfL were paying £22.3m for free travel they be paying themselves.  What the Tories actually mean is “lost revenue” rather than cost, what the nominees notionally would have paid in fares if they didn’t have the free pass but I suppose if you say that TfL are spending tax payers’ money on free travel it sounds “sexier”.

How did they come to the figure of £22.3m?  In 2014 nominees made just over 3.6m Tube or rail journeys and just under 4.8m bus or tram journeys, the average Tube fare was calculated as £3.60 by taking the arbitrary figures of the cost of a single Zone 1-6 peak time journey, £5.00, and a single Zone 1-2 off peak journey, £2.20.  The average bus and tram fare of £1.92 was reached by simply adding the single bus fare, £1.45, to the single tram fare, £2.40, and dividing by two regardless of the fact that far more journeys are on the buses than trams!

TfL disputed these totally worthless figures and estimated the lost revenue as not more than £7m although even that might be an overestimation as there’s no guarantee all the nominees would continue to use public transport if their free travel was withdrawn.  So rather than funding an extra 500 police on the Tube withdrawing nominee passes would provide 140 at the very most but even that raises the question of whether the Tube actually needs more police or whether they’d be more useful elsewhere in London where officer numbers have dropped by 1535 according to Sadiq Khan.

Maybe Zac Goldsmith shouldn't have been so keen to adopt one of Boff's ideas, the party faithful had so little regard for him that he came fourth out of four in the mayoral candidate selection ballot with just 4% of the votes although their judgment of him seems well deserved.  Last August Boff put a video clip of himself on Twitter saying “I love the DLR, no driver, no one to strike” but three months later a strike by RMT meant there was no service on the DLR for two days.  That’s pretty stupid but not as stupid as the clip still being there six months later.