London Evening Standard)
SPECIAL INVESTIGATION day three: 21m fewer trips on the tube and a likely £1bn revenue black hole
12 hours ago
A week ago Sadiq Khan was formally told that Crossrail, the most prestigious transport scheme of his generation, was running late on his watch. The 11th-hour postponement of the royal opening, until 2019, was a shock to commuters, companies and homeowners who were banking on the scheme arriving on schedule this year.
A “national embarrassment” was the verdict of business leaders. Labour peer Lord Adonis, a former transport secretary, questioned whether the project had had the necessary oversight.
The timing could hardly be worse for a Mayor who is holding on to a cat’s cradle of financial difficulties that will be exacerbated by the loss of Crossrail ticket revenues and a rise in construction costs. Transport for London, the authority he chairs, is suffering from falling passenger numbers, government funding being slashed and the uncertainty of Brexit.
In spring this year, TfL forecast a thumping deficit of almost £1 billion, up from £458 million in his first year in office, 2016/17.
The financial bind is made worse by Mr Khan’s own flagship pledge to freeze fares, which sucked £640 million from revenues, and by the loss of £700 million in subsidy this year under government cutbacks.