The latest from Caroline Pidgeon AM
Earlier this month we saw the introduction of the compulsory wearing of face masks on public transport throughout the whole of England. However, a further change is the restrictions on the older person’s Freedom Pass and the 60+ London Oyster photocard. All passengers with an Older Person's Freedom Pass, 60+ Oyster photocard or English National Concessionary Scheme pass will not be able to use them during morning peak hours, which is 04:30 to 09:00 Monday to Friday. (The Freedom Pass for disabled people will stay unaltered).
And more changes are on the way.
From Monday 22 June TfL is proposing that the Congestion Charge will increase to £15 and hours will be extended, operating from 07:00 to 22:00, seven days a week. They are also proposing to close the residents' discount for the Congestion Charge to new applications from August 1st.
Then, from September, free travel for under 18 year olds will be ended, with the Department for Transport claiming special arrangements will be made to ensure children eligible under national legislation can still travel to school for free.
The reason for all these changes that are being imposed just on London is due to policies being set by central government in its bailout deal for Transport for London. The full details of this bailout deal have now been published and can be seen here. Scroll down to page 63. And for anyone who wants a detailed understanding of TfL’s financial difficulties this is an excellent article.
Of course national government has a right to set some terms or conditions on any loan or grant it offers to TfL, but many of these conditions are petty and simply attempting to micro-manage how TfL operates. Similar conditions have not been imposed on other transport authorities around the country.
Under these changes, and many other conditions set by the Government, London’s devolved powers of government are being seriously eroded. Settling political scores has been put before the welfare of the young and older people in London.
Just how long will these changes last for?
All the above changes are repeatedly described as “temporary” but at present there is no information at all as to how long they will last for.
What we are doing?
We are strongly opposing most of these changes and especially the changes to the Freedom Pass and the ending of free travel for under 18 year olds. Ending free travel for under 18 year olds will especially hit low income families, just at a time when more support is needed for many families.
Please do support Siobhan Benita’s petition on this campaign.
Over the Summer I will of course keep you updated on all these changes. More information is also available via my Facebook site and on Twitter.
Liberal Democrat Assembly Member