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Ken Livingstone: From the mayor's desk

PUBLISHED: 06:27 24 March 2006 | UPDATED: 10:26 07 September 2010

Single biggest investment since end of the war: After decades of neglect, London's public transport system is starting to benefit from changes that, once completed, will represent the single biggest investment in London s transport system since the second world war...

After decades of neglect, London's public transport system is starting to benefit from changes that, once completed, will represent the single biggest investment in London's transport system since the second world war.

A poll of Londoners last year showed that more than eight out of 10 Londoners think our city is easy to get around - compared to 69 per cent in 2002.

The main improvement that has taken place in this time is the huge expansion of the bus service. I want to deliver similar improvements to the rail service - if I get the powers to do so.

This is why the Government's consultation on plans to give London more influence over commuter rail services across the capital, including some of those that start outside Greater London, is to be welcomed.

If the plans go ahead, we will be working co-operatively with local authorities to improve local rail services which run outside the Greater London area - including some of the rail services that serve West Hampstead Thameslink and Highbury and Islington station.

I want to see an integrated transport system that caters for 21st Century Londoners and all those who travel in and out of the capital every day, and we are beginning to get to grips with that.

Having an integrated system means that passengers should be able to jump from the overground to the tube, bus, Docklands Light Railway or tram using the same Oystercard and take advantage of cheaper single and day fares available only through Oyster.

I will assist rail companies to install the Oystercard technology so rail passengers can also take advantage of this fares structure.

Planning and providing safe, reliable and economic transport facilities is both a responsibility and a challenge. But we have made great strides to improve the quality of life for Londoners through their daily travel experience in and around the city. I want as many Londoners as possible to take advantage this.

The next step is that from April 2 - in plenty of time for the Easter break - London families will benefit from free tube journeys for all children under the age of 11, after 9.30am on weekdays and on weekends and public holidays.

This comes on the back of the abolition of bus and tram fares for under-16s last year, which will be followed by the removal of these fares for all under-18s in full time education later this year.

Combined with the retention of the Freedom Pass, this new concession for children on buses, tube, tram and Docklands Light Railway, constitutes a radical fares policy for the oldest and youngest in our city.

In fact, although it was at the Greater London Council that radical fares policies were first tried, right now today we are carrying through the effective abolition of many fares for older and younger Londoners.

In addition, there are some national rail routes on which under-11s travelling with an adult can travel free. So Ham &High readers who regularly use the West Hampstead Thameslink, for example, will be able to take their children around London, for free, to enjoy all that the city has to offer, from April.

Not only will free travel for children help make visiting London's many attractions more affordable for London families and widen the horizons of young Londoners, it will also encourage the next generation to use public transport as much as possible.

As we finally see the investment in public transport that London has needed, I want the next generation to be real public transport users for the rest of their lives.

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