London Mayor Sadiq Khan is facing a backlash over proposals to abolish one-day Travelcards, with opponents saying this would hit struggling households and encourage private car use, adding to air pollution in the UK capital.
The card provides a day's unlimited a travel on services operated by Transport for London, the local government body responsible for most of the transport network in London, for a fixed sum.
Abolishing them, part of Mr Khan's proposed changes to the city's transport fares structure, could increase travel costs by up to 25 per cent, claim critics.
Member of Parliament Ben Spencer, who is opposing the proposal, said the impact would be “truly shocking”.
It would add to the financial burden on residents and commuters already grappling with rising living costs, opponents say.
The move would also have an environmental impact, as by making public transport less affordable there could be a rise in private car use, they add.
This would be at odds with Mr Khan's focus on reducing air pollution in the city.
Changes could also increase inconvenience for travellers, who might no longer be able to issue joint rail and TfL tickets.
Opponents say there has been inadequate public consultation on the proposals.
Mr Khan's office argues that these potential changes stem from necessary measures brought about by the financial impact of the pandemic on TfL’s finances.
To adhere to government funding agreements, TfL is required to develop strategies to generate considerable additional income, it says.
The Mayor's office says it is open to negotiating all options to meet the requirements of the government funding agreement and avoid scrapping the one-day Travelcard.
Conservative Party MP Mr Spencer, who represents the Runnymede and Weybridge constituency in the Surrey commuter belt, has launched a petition opposing the removal of the cards.
With more than 10,000 signatures, this urges Mr Khan and TfL to keep one-day Travelcards or provide an affordable alternative.
In a letter to Mr Khan, who represents the opposition Labour Party, Mr Spencer said scrapping the card would seriously affect commuters, students, pensioners, hospital patients and families who depend on affordable public transportation.
“It was truly shocking to read of the impact these proposals will have,” wrote Mr Spencer, who detailed personal stories from constituents.
One constituent said that without the Travelcard, their world would become “smaller and smaller”.
Another expressed concern over the rising costs for their travel to a London hospital for treatment, which would have a “huge impact”.
Mr Spencer also said raising the cost of public transport would encourage car use – in direct contradiction to Mr Khan's stated aim of reducing air pollution.