Assembly chief John Biggs calls for 7pc fare reduction on Tube and buses

The London Assembly’s budget chairman has today called on Boris Johnson to cut fares by seven per cent to take pressure off families hit by the recession.

John Biggs made the call just 24 hours after bus and Underground fares shot up 5.6 per cent on average.

TfL has enough spare cash to hand some back without hitting transport improvements, he demanded.

“We’re being hit with yet another rise above inflation when families are facing a real squeeze,” he said.

“It’s time the Mayor used the surplus in TfL’s coffers to put money back into commuters’ pockets—that’s the responsible thing in tough times.”

TfL’s own accounts show “fares can be reduced without putting improvement works at risk,” he pointed out.

TfL’s operating budget has �206million surplus which he urged could be used to hold fares down.

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Criticism also came from Lib Dem Opposition members on the Assembly.

Brian Paddick, their candidate for Mayor, said: “Boris has racked up fares far more than inflation for the fourth year in a row.”

Lib Dem Transport spokesman Caroline Pidgeon called for an end to “the scandal of Oyster overcharging” and to bring in measures to help those on low income such as a one-hour bus ticket and cheaper early morning travel.

Fares are up on average just above inflation, TfL admits. But it was “lower than expected” after Boris secured �136m from the Government.

The Mayor’s Transport Deputy, Isabel Dedring, said: “Every penny from fares is vital to keep services running and make improvements. The �12 billion investment is backed by fares that keep TfL’s finances on an even keel.”

Off-peak rail fares in zones 1 and 2 are up by 7.7 per cent, while zones 5 and 6 are up 7.4 per cent. Average tube fares overall are six per cent more.

The seven-day bus pass is now 5.6 per cent dearer than last week, while a single Oyster ‘Pay as You Go’ fare is 3.8 per cent more. The weekly Zone 1-2 Travelcard is up 5.8 per cent.