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London Mayoral Election

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Efros
900957.  Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:49 pm Reply with quote

DfT wrote:
English non-Metropolitan areas had the highest level of subsidy per passenger journey (14.5 pence in 2010/11), London had the lowest level of subsidy per passenger journey (4.8 pence in 2010/11) while English Metropolitan areas were in-between (12.0 pence in 2010/11). Comparisons between London and the rest of the country should be made with care – see note below.

Background information
Lower subsidy per passenger journey will indicate better value for the public purse. However, this could arise as a result of reductions in the most heavily subsidised services – many of which are routes in rural areas which would be unprofitable without public subsidy. Reductions to these services would improve the ‘headline’ measure but would risk making rural communities more isolated.

The figures exclude expenditure on capital projects (e.g. bus lane priority schemes) which benefit the bus industry directly or indirectly. Outside London, the local bus industry is deregulated, but London runs an entirely tendered bus market under the oversight of Transport for London. Given the different market structures, comparisons between London and the rest of country should be made with considerable care.


http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/dft-business-plan-indicators-input-02/

 
AndyE
900962.  Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:19 pm Reply with quote

Good evening barbados; suze tells me that I must indeed speak for myself. That figure of 23.8 million per day refers to what TfL call 'trips'; a 'trip' is any journey of more than a minimum length. It includes journeys by bus, train or Underground, but also journeys by car, by bicycle and even on foot. (Note p 3 of the PDF, which mentions that walking accounts for 21% of 'trips'.)

So while this is a mildly interesting statistic, it doesn't really mean very much. All is not lost though, because pp 17-18 of the PDF break down the 'trips' by mode. 33% of journeys are made by public transport, 41% by private car, 21% on foot, and 2% by bicycle. The remaining 3% will be mainly cabs, with small contributions from privately hired coaches, horses, boats and other more esoteric forms of transport.

So, there are something like eight million journeys per day on public transport in London.

Comparable statistics for Cambridgeshire are very hard to discover; Cambridgeshire County Council received an FOI request on the matter and said that it didn't hold the information, while Stagecoach - which has the vast majority of the Cambridgeshire bus market - considers its own statistics commercially confidential and won't publish them.

But Stagecoach does say that there are 120,000 journeys per week on Cambridge's local route network; informed estimates suggest that this is probably about two thirds of all bus journeys in the county.

The Office of the Rail Regulator publishes figures which show that 14.5 million railway journeys were made to or from a Cambridgeshire station in the year 2010-11. There are eighteen railway stations in Cambridgeshire; Cambridge station alone accounts for about 60% of the total.

Putting those two figures together suggests that there are about 70,000 public transport journeys per day in Cambridgeshire. So in fact, your suggestion of not quite 1% of London's figure was very accurate - kudos!

There are two points which now need to be made, but to avoid extreme length I'll make a separate post for them.

 
AndyE
900982.  Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:48 pm Reply with quote

I'll come to those two points in a moment. First of all though, Efros's post. As is noted in that extract, one can't really compare London with the rest of the country.

That figure of 4.8 pence per journey doesn't really mean what it says, because it excludes TfL's block grant which is not treated as being a subsidy - even though a subsidy is really what it is. Elsewhere in the country there is no block grant.

The metropolitan areas and most of the unitary authorities will always require less subsidy per journey than the shire counties. That's because they are mostly urban, and urban buses are both cheaper to run than rural buses and more profitable. Simplistically, that's because the customers are closer together and poorer (hence less likely to have cars) in towns than in the country.

Some large urban areas - Southend on Sea is one such - provide no subsidy at all because the commercial operators do not require one. In others, the subsidy pays for late evening buses and Sunday buses which would not otherwise be provided.

Getting back to those two points.

1. Outside London, it's very rarely the case that public transport exists to meet the need of all who would like to use it. What we do not know is how many more bus and train journeys would be made if only the services existed.

For example, Ramsey is a town of 11,000 which lies fenward of Huntingdon and south of Peterborough. It has had no public transport at all on Sundays since Cambridgeshire withdrew the funding for its Sunday bus service, and is eleven miles from a railway station (Huntingdon).

It's difficult to know just how large the unmet demand for public transport is, but it's assuredly not zero. How many people do not take jobs because they can't get to them? How many people drive when they shouldn't because there's no alternative? How many people would get the bus to a train from Huntingdon, were there only a bus to get?

2. suze and I are absolutely not saying that the subsidy that TfL gets is A Bad Thing of itself; we think it's actually quite a good thing, and that all of the country should get something similar.

But the Conservative Party does not think that. It thinks that subsidy in the rest of the country was bad, and actually thought the same re London but didn't dare do anything about it.

As a result, Mr Fenner in Cambridge does pay Neotenic's tube fares, but Neotenic doesn't pay Mr Fenner's bus fares (which are also considerably higher than Neotenic's). Why should we, if he doesn't have to?

 
barbados
901014.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:57 am Reply with quote

Thank you for that, as usual, insightful post.

As one who has lived at both extremes of the transport supply chain I can tell you what happens when there are no buses - people just drive, or walk. The village I used to live in had one bus on a Sunday, at 11pm - how you were supposed to use it I have no idea, because if you got the bus somewhere there was no way home - and if you needed the bus to go home, how did you get there in the first place? I even used to drive that very bus on a number of occasions needless to say it usually ran the last part of the journey through my village empty (that said I pretty much knew the names of every person that lived there as did everyone else and we had our own seats in the pub!)

Maybe the problem with transport in London is, as with a lot of cities, it is the thing that keeps the city alive, and the travelling public are so reliant on it - you only need to close the network down for a couple of hours to see that (I'm thinking more of the storms of 87 rather than the bombings) people in London just cant cope if the bus or train doesn't arrive. And that is maybe to do with the regulation side of things, who knows?

 
barbados
901015.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:02 am Reply with quote

Back to the Mayoral election, I think London is very fortunate to have two heavyweight candidate running for the job. Both have London at the heart of what they want to do.

Now if only Ken wasn't such a weasel and Boris wasn't such a buffoon, lets face it if either of them told you that black was an absence of light you'd think Ken was lying and Boris was joking, things would be so much better

 
Neotenic
901022.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:08 am Reply with quote

There is something bleakly comic about the fact that my post showing that Ken is basing bold claims on some kind of accounting voodoo generates more interest in the government subsidy of the London transport network, than it does in the bloke wanting to be in charge of it trying, clearly, to lie his way back into the job.

Perhaps that just shows that 'Ken is lying' is simply the baseline that we all accept.

Having cast around a bit, I see that probably the most comprehensive hatchet job done on the manifesto promise to cut fares was in the Grauniad, which is pretty bad news for any Labour candidate really.

For yet more detail, we can turn in our hymnbooks to Channel 4's Fact Check.

This fare cut has been Ken's banner policy pretty much since he won the 'contest' to secure the candidacy again - that it is based on figures that have to have been wilfully misrepresented, otherwise he and his advisors would have to be barely sentient enough to walk and talk simultaneously, is simply breathtaking.

 
suze
901090.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:26 am Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
There is something bleakly comic about the fact that my post showing that Ken is basing bold claims on some kind of accounting voodoo generates more interest in the government subsidy of the London transport network, than it does in the bloke wanting to be in charge of it trying, clearly, to lie his way back into the job.

Perhaps that just shows that 'Ken is lying' is simply the baseline that we all accept.


I think what it shows is that, while Ken does indeed seem to be mis-speaking there, Boris probably isn't going to draw attention to it. He doesn't really want to get into a debate on the funding of TfL; if I were UKIP, I just might choose to open that debate.

As the various analyses show, there isn't a great deal of scope to cut fares at the present time. One thing that could be done at minimal cost is to cut cash fares (currently £2.30 on buses, from £4.30 on the Underground) - but there's no real point, since there aren't very many cash fares paid anymore, and most of those that there are are paid by visitors to London who don't have Oystercards. By now, practically every Londoner who ever uses public transportation has an Oystercard.

What's more, the Oyster fares that most Londoners actually pay (£1.35 on buses, from £2.00 on the Underground) are already extremely cheap as compared to the rest of the country. If a Labour mayor were to cut them, then the Conservatives would start talking about that subsidy.

 
Neotenic
901094.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:38 am Reply with quote

Quote:
I think what it shows is that, while Ken does indeed seem to be mis-speaking there, Boris probably isn't going to draw attention to it.


Mis-speaking?

We're talking about a special little box printed in his manifesto about how he would pay for his headline policy change - this isn't some off-the-cuff remark in a doorstepped interview.

If Boris had done likewise, would that still be treated as 'mis-speaking'? I somehow doubt it.

 
CB27
901198.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:25 pm Reply with quote

The problem with throwing around accusations about truth is when there is so much conflicting evidence out there.

Personally, I'm not sure what the exact facts are because of the conflicting evidence, the factcheck and other links provided above are mostly from details in January and previous financial details, but there is also the TFL meeting from February which stated that the third quarter showed higher demand and high income due to a number fo factors (such as Westfield Stratford), some of which are short term, some long term. It reports on a number of savings which are not part of earlier reports.

 
Neotenic
901213.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:56 pm Reply with quote

Oh, come on, dude - conflicting evidence?

the only reason there is a conflict is because Ken's team effectively invented a number by subtracting one sum from another that should never have been in the same equation, and then presented this as being an 'operational surplus shown in their published accounts'.

And, not only that, but he has explicitly linked this ficticious surplus to the fare rises over the last four years, as if it had never existed before.

The only source I need for his claim is his manifesto. The only source I need to prove the claim is weapons-grade claptrap are the annual accounts that he refers to in that claim. There is no conflict.

I think we all accept that politicians make promises in manifestos they can't keep, for one reason or another. I think it's more than likely that many have made promises that they know they can't keep. That's just the way things are.

But I thoroughly object to this voodoo accounting Ken and his campaign team are relying upon to back up this policy and give it a superficial credibility, safe in the knowledge that most people won't ever bother to check it out.

And, even if making up the figures wasn't enough, portraying this non-existent surplus as Boris and TfL literally grabbing the money out of our pockets and stuffing it into their own is simply fucking poisonous, and exhibits everything that is wrong with politics in this country at the moment.

 
CB27
901241.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:11 pm Reply with quote

Whatever, dude...

There's a slight problem with taking the mantra from Tory websites in that while there are question marks over whether there is a surplus or not, and how much there is, there is no question that Ken has pinned his campaign on the 7% reduction, which will need to come from somewhere. Linking the questioning of the surplus meant to ensure other funds are not touched is not the same as claiming a manifesto promise is a lie before someone can have the chance to carry it out (or not).

And claiming you can't use extra income reported in later reports seems like simply denying you can every agree with a candidate's promise, whether the money is there or not.

Going back to the question of conflicting evidence, the problem lies with what makes current operational surplus, savings towards later cuts, reductions in costs, etc. Ken's team call it a current surplus, those disagreeing say it's part of savings. As I understand it, the £700m is part of ongoing savings of budgets over the next 4 years, and should not be used unless necessary, but the proposals by Ken are not to use £700m, but about a third of it, and that similar amounts will be take in the next 4 years. That means that the surplus/savings still need to be shored up in some way, and the February report seems to suggest that a current increase in income due to recent projects will go some way to help. I imagine that a reduction in fares might also help increase the use of public transport, hopefully increasing income more **. I can't say I'm completely convinced by the numbers and I think there's a possiibility that some money will still need to be found from other sources, but nothing like the full amount of the savings.

** The irony is not lost on me that here I am arguing that a reduction in fares might increase sales, while previously arguing a decrease in the top rate of tax will not change receipts a great deal. The difference is that my objection to the reduction of top rate tax is the suggestion it will get people who are avoiding paying tax to suddenly start, whereas a reduction in the cost of public travel might get people to ditch more expensive car travel.

Personally, I'd prefer public transport was more heavily subsidised (not just in London) because I think private car ownership has clogged up the roads and made us too reliant on certain associated markets, as evidenced by the recent jerry can fiasco. This is why I'm willing to give Ken more benefit of the doubt on this idea.

 
Neotenic
901246.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 3:24 pm Reply with quote

Quote:
There's a slight problem with taking the mantra from Tory websites in that while there are question marks over whether there is a surplus or not


Of course, I could only be parroting what I've read elsewhere, couldn't I?

It couldn't possibly be that I was genuinely interested in how Ken was going to present the fare cut in the manifesto, so read the explanation then promptly went and read the annual accounts?

There is such a thing as doing your own research. You will also note that I only followed it up with additional reporting from elsewhere the next day - from that famed Tory bastion, the Guardian.

Now, can we please just leave the dipstick tribalism at the door? I don't even read any fucking Tory websites.

Ken doesn't even just call it a surplus, he calls it 'stockpiling profits' - and anyone with even the most rudimentary understanding of an income statement can see what a runaway stampede of buffalo-shit that is.

Quote:
As I understand it, the £700m is part of ongoing savings of budgets over the next 4 years, and should not be used unless necessary, but the proposals by Ken are not to use £700m, but about a third of it, and that similar amounts will be take in the next 4 years.


that's a lovely thought - but how does that square with the documentation? In particular;

Quote:
According to TfL’s published
accounts, last year it had a surplus
of £727 million and in the first
9 months alone of this year it is
£310 million. Put simply, this
means that TfL is raising hundreds
of millions of pounds more in fares
and other income than it needs to
run Tube and bus services, or had
budgeted for.


I think that pretty clearly says the £700 million was a surplus last year, doesn't it?

 
CB27
901286.  Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:53 pm Reply with quote

Neotenic wrote:
I think that pretty clearly says the £700 million was a surplus last year, doesn't it?

Yeah.... I don't think I said Ken isn't claiming it's a surplus, if you go back you'll see I wrote "Ken's team call it a current surplus, those disagreeing say it's part of savings." My point is about how accounting is presented, and how it can be used for different arguments.

For what it's worth, I've also said I'm not in agreement with how Ken's team see these figures because I tend to favour reducing debts, but I can understand how they came to view them as a surplus.

This all comes down to operating margin, which was budgeted for £2.067bn, and came in at £1.339. A book keeper will tell you that's still a loss, which is what is sending alarm bells off, but the problem here is that this is an accountancy issue. As with the last post, I'll link this to the discussion on top rate tax and a point I made on that discussion in that people were able to defer profits/losses to take advantage of different tax rates. In the same manner, if there was no election and politicians involved and TFL had shown a £727m variance in operating margin, this may have been allocated to an investment programme or to offset high margin debts.

We're now being told that this £700m has been set aside for expected reductions in subsidies, but this argument seems a little "after the event" considering they were running these services before the current government got in.

Personally, I'm more interested in how the variance in budget is made up of. Interestingly, there is a decent cut in operating expenditure, which makes up £453m and represents just under 8% of the expenditure budget. However, the operating income shows an increase of £275m, which is a little over 7.5% of projected income. What is proposed by Ken is a 7% reduction, which represents the variance in income. Considering subsequent reports showing a further increase in income (plus the ticket increases since) means the impact is lower.

 
barbados
901307.  Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:15 am Reply with quote

Question for you CB.

If it is ok to use the government grant to finance an election promise of cutting fares, where does the money come from when the work the grant was for needs doing?

I'm thinking that pretty soon they will have worked out a way to repair the Hammersmith flyover, and that will cost millions. Along with all of the oher bridges/flyovers that are of a similar construction that don't seem to be as robust as first thought. And projects like crossrail that will no doubt cost twice as much as planned - because that is what happens with public projects.

 
Neotenic
901327.  Fri Apr 13, 2012 3:23 am Reply with quote

Quote:
This all comes down to operating margin, which was budgeted for £2.067bn, and came in at £1.339. A book keeper will tell you that's still a loss, which is what is sending alarm bells off, but the problem here is that this is an accountancy issue.


Exactly - and the accountancy issue is that a surplus is not the difference between a forward-looking budget and the reality at the end of the period in question, but between income and expenditure.

And, whichever way you look at it, TfL spends more than it receives in revenue from its customers. Therefore, there is no surplus.

 

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