The regular disruption of a private rail company on the Southern franchise has caused a lot of trouble for commuters which we have talked about recently. The Mayor of London has been free with his advice to the Transport Secretary, telling him to intervene to prevent the strikes. The Mayor has also said if he took control of this franchise he would be able to run it better.
Today the Mayor has a chance to show his skills at peacemaking with transport unions, as this time it is his very own TFL which faces a damaging strike on the underground. Why hasn’t Mayor Kahn be able to work his promised magic and stop it? What does he intend to do to get the tube running again properly? Does he support the changes to station staffing that have caused the problems, as he says, or is he going to back down and side with the Union over it?
The Mayor is not having a great time with transport policy. He has decided to pull the plug on new orders for the UK manufactured new Routemaster bus. This iconic vehicle launched by the previous Mayor was said by the new Mayor to be too expensive. This was because the early orders had to cover start up costs and the possibility of low volume against the costs of all the tooling. Just at the point where the London taxpayers would get some relief, with lower prices for the next orders, the Mayor cancels. Worse still the new buses he wants to buy are coming from a partnership with a Chinese company, where the UK content in the buses will be much lower. So the UK loses jobs making the new buses and has a bigger import bill as a result.
The Mayor has also backed down on his promise to freeze all fares for commuters. He’s discovering it’s easier talking about national issues from the Labour party leadership to Brexit, than actually doing a good job running London transport and using after UK manufacturing in the process.