The fare rises had been scheduled to begin on New Year’s Day.
Ok, let’s start with the bad news. Under the terms of the government bailout given to TfL in November to keep Tube, bus, and other services running during the winter and into 2021, transport fares in the capital are set to rise next year. After Sadiq Khan froze Tube fares for a number of years, they had been scheduled to rise slightly next year – yet under the terms of the bailout, both they and bus fares will rise ahead of inflation, with a roughly 2.6% increase expected. So, nothing to celebrate so far. However, the Evening Standard has reported that the fare hikes – initially planned for January 1 – will now come into effect two months later, on March 1, 2021. Hey, in 2020 we cling to whatever shreds of good news we can, alright?
Still, this isn’t exactly great news for a city reckoning with the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic, especially those working in the most heavily-affected industries (theatre and the arts, the hospitality industry, and the music and nightlife scene amongst them). As has been noted previously, TfL is heavily reliant on transport fares to support their annual budget, and the falling ridership during the spring and November lockdowns, coupled to fewer commuters, has seen their finances take a dire hit. Worse, this turndown has also impacted TfL’s plans to avoid a “car-led recovery” from the pandemic, especially with London’s air quality still in pretty poor shape.
Whilst the fare hikes are unavoidable, we’ve at least been granted two extra months to raid the sofa cushions for any spare change. Plus, with working from home becoming an increasingly popular option in the wake of the lockdowns, many Londoners may be able to mitigate the worst of the fare rises – especially with more cycle lanes and hire bikes becoming available over the summer. Unfortunately, these aren’t going to be options for everyone, and if you’re someone who’s spent most of the past few months on furlough, out of work, or just about managing, the fare rises are the last thing you want happening. Right now, seems like the only thing we can do is keep our fingers crossed for a swift economic recovery as the coronavirus vaccine begins to roll out across the UK.
Fare rises aren’t the only new thing we’ll see next year though, as the Tube map has been given a makeover for 2021.
Also published on Medium.