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Boris under fire over fare rises

PUBLISHED: 16:31 21 October 2009 | UPDATED: 10:50 12 August 2010

London Mayor Boris Johnson has defended a decision to hit commuters with inflation-busting fare hikes. Mr Johnson announced a 12.7 per cent rise in bus fares and 3.9 per cent on Tube fares last Thursday in an attempt to address a £620 million bus subsidy

London Mayor Boris Johnson has defended a decision to hit commuters with inflation-busting fare hikes.

Mr Johnson announced a 12.7 per cent rise in bus fares and 3.9 per cent on Tube fares last Thursday in an attempt to address a £620 million bus subsidy and £700 million Tube deficit. The new ticket prices take effect from January.

Mr Johnson said: "Nobody wants to make an announcement like this, especially when Londoners are feeling the effects of the recession. It is not a decision I have taken lightly.

"I have been persuaded of the need for fare rises only after ensuring that every efficiency possible, at least £5 billion in total, is being made at TfL.

"However, the mistakes of the past and the current economic climate have conspired to present us with a huge challenge. The crucial thing is that we safeguard the investment in our city's future and that's why I'm asking Londoners to accept this difficult decision."

Orpington Public Transport Users Association has backed the decision.

Chairman Brian Cooke, a former chair of London TravelWatch, said: "If the vital expansion and improvement of London's transport network is to go ahead it has to be paid for.

"For the first time for many decades real improvement is being made to the capital's transport network. It is vital that this continues. The Mayor is right to bite the bullet and make the TfL budget balance."

But the decision was blasted by Unite union regional secretary Steve Hart, who said: "This is an outrageous assault on hard-working Londoners.

"When inflation is falling, these fare increases will mean a fall in living standards for public transport users.

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