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8 November 2011updated 26 Sep 2015 9:46pm

These London fare hikes are unfair — and unnecessary

Last year the operating surplus was £727m. That money needs to go back into Londoners' hands.

By Ken Livingstone

The hundreds of thousands who demonstrated in March against spending cuts that threaten the recovery were calling for it. The Occupy protesters in the City have expressed it. The students who mobilised peacefully against rip-off student fees and EMA cuts have shown the need for it too.

It’s the need for an alternative.

The whole framework the right of British politics is seeking to impose is that ordinary people must pay the cost for an economic crisis they did not create: to live with their pensions being attacked, VAT up, jobs under threat, services being cut. A generation is being prepared for a worse future than the one their parents expected.

It is a limiting, useless view of the world, a betrayal of young people, an attack on the majority. It’s not even about cutting the deficit – it’s about imposing a renewed neo-liberal agenda on Britain.

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As Mayor of London you can do something. Not as much as Prime Ministers or Presidents, but there are things you can do.

London in 2011 has the wrong values. City Hall has become a citadel of vested interests, campaigning to evict the protesters in Paternoster Square while relentlessly pressing for a lower rate of tax on the richest.

Tory fares policy has locked us into higher fares for years to come. A single bus fare up 56 per cent in four years. A zone 1-6 travelcard up 22 per cent. A weekly bus and tram pass up 47 per cent. Every year, without fail, the mayor rakes in more in fares revenue than his budget plan he says he will. Last year the operating surplus was £727m. That money needs to go back into Londoners’ hands.

So today I’m launching a new Fare Deal campaign. Fares will rise in January and are planned to rise every year above inflation. If elected in May I will bring forward an emergency fares cut in the autumn of 2012, then freeze fares throughout 2013. After that I will ensure they rise by no more than inflation. We will carry out this Fare Deal without cutting future investment or hitting services.

I’ll be riding the transport network today on our #fareride action day, joining campaigners for our Fare Deal and taking our message to stations and stops in every borough.

Tories argue lower fares will lead to cuts in services or investment. In fact large sums allocated to investment simply aren’t being spent. And my policy only reduces the surplus.

Londoners can’t afford a mayor who is so out of touch that he is raising transport fares but thinks it’s okay to have a second job paying £250,000 a year – an amount he calls “chicken feed”. I read the remarks of Boris Johnson’s Tory six-figure salary appointees as they defend year-on-year fare rises with a growing sense of revulsion. Tory grandees in London tell us we can’t do it. We can.

My kids are growing up in this city now, and I don’t want them living in a city where no one is taking action to put Londoners first. Join our campaign for a Fare Deal and help make a difference.

Ken Livingstone is a former mayor of London and candidate in the 2010 London mayoral election.