KEN LIVINGSTONE: bungling Boris can't handle big transport challenge
ONE advantage of using public transport every single day myself is that I see the transport system as Londoners experience it. This is why I have been committed to better public transport for Londoners, and why as Mayor I have devoted so much of my time a
ONE advantage of using public transport every single day myself is that I see the transport system as Londoners experience it. This is why I have been committed to better public transport for Londoners, and why as Mayor I have devoted so much of my time and energy to getting the transport improvements that Londoners expect.
I have always fought for the widest possible access to transport. That is why I introduced the Freedom Pass which nearly 30,000 Camden residents use. If I'm re-elected it will be extended so that pensioners and the disabled will be able to travel at any time on any day of the year on train, tubes and buses.
If you have a family I'm sure you'll have noticed the savings you are making since I introduced free bus travel for under 18s. It means 10,000 under 18s in Camden have benefited from free travel, saving families up to £350 per year. And if you get income support and have signed up to my half price bus passes, then you too are saving money every time you travel.
For users of the London Overground that comes through the borough, you should have begun to see improvements after years of neglect. Now that I have taken control of the line every station along the route is staffed. Soon there be further improvements when we install CCTV at every station. You'll find that the trains will change soon. The old and dilapidated stock is being replaced with brand new carriages that will make you journey more reliable and comfortable.
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One of the biggest task confronting the Mayor over the next term is to successfully deliver the huge transport projects that are now underway in our city - because these are the key not only to moving around London but to the entire finances of London.
Delivering the £16 billion Crossrail project, effectively managing the £1 billion a year tube modernisation, continuing the expansion and improvement of London's bus system and completing the upgrades and extensions to overground rail services - which will benefit directly this part of north London.
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These schemes are so large that if mismanaged, they will create a transport and financial disaster for London with huge rises in fares and business rates. This matters to every Londoner, from Camden to Croydon. That is why I am running on my record of successfully delivering major improvements in transport over the last eight years and on delivering the even bigger schemes to come.
As already shown in an incredible £100 million a year error in Boris Johnson's manifesto, there are big risks from incompetence in running transport. His claim that his bus policy would cost £8million has been shown to be wrong by over £100million.
This would equal a single bus fare on Oyster up from 90p to £1.05 and a weekly bus pass up from £13 to £15.
When I was elected in 2000 I immediately introduced the rapid measures that would improve transport and at the same time I began to put in place long-term policies that London's future depends on.
The outcome of this is all around us across every part of London. Better bus services, easier and faster ticketing with the Oyster card, traffic down in central London, cycling up 83 per cent, mini-cabs licensed and regulated. We abolished bus and tram fares for children. We protected the Freedom Pass from Tory attempts to abolish it. I have halved bus and tram fares for Londoners on income support. London is the only major city anywhere to see a shift from car use to public transport.
But by comparison with what must be done in the next term, these achievements are a springboard to the really big work ahead. Our transport system is at the threshold of its biggest expansion since Queen Victoria sat on the throne.
We have to build the £16 billion Crossrail, extend London Overground rail and DLR, improve commuter rail services, ensure better stations and more staffing. We will take over the work of the private Metronet tube company and deliver track and train upgrades with station and security improvements.
My commitments to Ham&High readers and all Londoners is that in if I'm re- elected I will include measures to 'green' and 'personalise' transport: with a new fleet of new buses that will be cleaner hybrid powered, introduce payment by mobile phone for Oyster cards, ensure minute-by-minute bus information technology, make the Freedom Pass a 24-hour concession so that it can be used all day every day including before 9am, extend the student travel discount and deliver a revolution in cycling with bike hire scheme, super cycleways and safe cycling zones.
This work will require commitment and the ability to deliver real improvements to London's transport system on a scale we have so far not yet seen.