Attribution: Steve Punter
Today, London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that the one-hour bus Hopper fare will become unlimited early in 2018, while also reconfirming a commitment to his pledge regarding fare freeze continuing into next year.
The Hopper update will mean that passengers can change trams and buses as many times as they want to within one hour, at no additional cost. The current setup enables users to take a £1.50 tram or bus journey, and then change onto another tram or bus for free, within an hour of touching in at the beginning of their trip.
The upgrade will also mean that passengers can make the unlimited tram or bus journeys, even if they travel on rail or Tube services in between.
In September, Transport for London (TfL) said that about 325,000 journeys are currently being made every weekday using the Hopper fare. More than 100m journeys have been made with the use of the Hopper Fare since Khan introduced it a year ago.
Today, the mayor announced that weekly capping is also coming to Oyster cards later in 2018, in order to aline it with contactless ticketing.
Khan also reaffirmed his earlier commitment to maintaining the TfL fare freeze until 2020, saying that the pledge will continue as planned into 2018.
Pay as you go journeys on DLR, the Tube, Emirates Air Line and rail services, as well as the Santander Cycles, will all have fare freezes in 2018. The fare freeze, however, does not apply to monthly Oyster cards, travelcards, or daily caps.
Khan stated: “Millions of Londoners benefit every day from my fares freeze so I’m delighted to confirm that it will continue next year as promised. We will also be introducing the unlimited Hopper fare which will allow Londoners to change buses and trams as many times as they need to within an hour without paying a penny more. This will save Londoners millions of pounds.”
The mayor continued: Freezing travel costs is making a real difference for Londoners as the cost of living continues to rise sharply. The government must now follow my lead and freeze national rail fares – especially for London suburban rail services. If I can do it, why can’t they?”
Khan has said that by 2020, the average London household will have saved about £200 thanks to the fares freeze.
However, there has been some controversy that is surrounding the freeze, with criticism that it has affected the transport budget of London.
Last month, TfL announced that upgrades for the Northern Line and Jubilee Line had been shelved after a two percent drop in passenger numbers on the Tube. That meant the need to rejig the business plan of TfL as the Tube is the only part of the network to generate a profit.
However, last week, a meeting of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, stated that cuts were down to the fare freeze of the mayor.
And today, Keith Prince, a fellow London Assembly Conservative member, said: “In just 12 months, Sadiq Khan’s con of a ‘fares freeze’ has eluded millions of travelcard users and cost TfL hundreds of millions of pounds.
“The £640m hole in the budget has led to a cancellation of upgrade work on the Northern and Jubilee Lines, question marks over Metropolitan Line and Sutton tram extensions, a massive hike in the cost of private hire licence fees and an abandonment of TfL’s graduate scheme.
“This reckless policy, along with the underestimated cost of the Hopper fare, might win the mayor a few votes but will cause major long-term problems for London’s transport system. I urge him to reconsider.”
The City Hall said today that the latest figures from the Office of Rail Regulators reveal that the London Overground, where the London mayor has frozen fares, was the only one of the four main train operators that are within London and the South East to record an increase in passenger numbers.
A spokesperson for the Sadiq Khan stated: “Sadiq is investing record amounts into the future of London’s transport infrastructure without burdening Londoners with huge fare hikes seen under the previous mayor.
“This includes the biggest Tube capacity growth that London has ever seen. TfL’s modernisation programme and in-depth technical work means that they can increase the frequency of existing trains and improve the reliability and performance of the Northern and Jubilee lines without the immediate need for new trains.”