As l joined Ken’s campaign for a “Fare Deal” this morning, I was reminded of his “Fares Fair” initiative back in 1981. I for one, benefitted from Ken’s revolutionary campaign back in the early 80s to significantly reduce the cost of travel. The deal was to introduce a very welcome 30% reduction in tubes fares, enabling me to travel to school by tube for the first time. At that time, there was spare capacity on the tube, even at peak times.
In the early 80s, it was about getting “bottoms on seats” and the scheme proved to be a highly successful policy, increasing public transport use across the day and reducing car use. The scheme cut all bus and underground fares by a third, introduced the “Just the Ticket” initiative which brought about the now indispensable travel card. It also introduced the concept of off peak fare travel. Unfortunately, a legal challenge by Bromley Council culminating in a House of Lords ruling put a stop to the initiative. The premise for the challenge was that areas, like Bromley with no underground service would only be able to take advantage of the resulting reduction in bus fares, not underground fares, therefore the Fares Fair policy was deemed not so fair for Bromley rates payers.
This time the Fare Deal campaign is just as radical but for different reasons. There are of course obvious parallels to be drawn between now and then, such as another Tory administration, painful cuts, rising inflation and unemployment. However, this time Ken’s proposal to cut fares by 7% and freeze them next year is necessary in order to reverse an untenable above inflation rise in public transport costs imposed by the current London administration. The motivation is no longer to encourage commuters to use public transport as they continue to be torn between spiralling fuel prices and rocketing fare increases. Any public transport system has a captive audience right now. Ken’s scheme is radical because it dares to suggest the unthinkable in today’s climate, coming against a tsunami of austerity measures and daring to suggest another way. As passengers continue to be forced fed the idea that there is no alternative but to keep piling on the pressure, forcing them to pay more and more for their travel, Ken has come up with a credible and workable alternative. This, don’t forget is from the man who brought us the travel card and off peak fare travel, this should count for a lot.
Finally, passengers can be assured that the likes of Bromley council won’t be able to challenge Ken’s “Fare Deal” in the same way Ken’s previous scheme was, because, this time, the whole of London stands to benefit , not just those who have access to tubes in their boroughs. So rest assure that when Ken gets in, his Fare Deal initiative won’t be fought out in the courts in the same way.