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Transport for London has been using its cash reserves to meet the £600 million monthly bill of operating services – and says it needs around £3.2 billion to balance its proposed emergency budget for 2020/21. London Mayor, Mr Khan, said without immediate financial support the transport body would be forced to make cuts to its underground and bus networks. Because TfL is legally treated like a local authority, “we have to be able to balance the books”, Mr Khan told LBC radio.
We’d have to reduce the Tube services we provide to save money
He added: “We’d have to reduce the bus services we provide.
“We’d have to reduce the Tube services we provide to save money.
“If we don’t get the deal done today, the chief financial officer of TfL has legal duties that he has to follow.
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“At a time when the Government is wanting us to increase services to get into the recovery phase, we might be required to cut services because the Government is failing to give us the grant support we need.”
Mr Khan said TfL has been negotiating with the Government for around six weeks.
He said: “I’m unclear about why the Government are waiting until the 11th hour to agree a deal. It is really bad form.”
Downing Street said the Government is in discussions with Mr Khan over a “funding and finance package” for TfL.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Cabinet was today briefed about the negotiations, which were at an “advanced stage”.
The spokesman added: “It is a commercial discussion.
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“We remain in close contact with the mayor and TfL to look at how we can support them.
“Our priority is on reaching an agreement which keeps critical services running for those passengers who must use public transport to get work, ensuring we keep London moving safely.
“That means protecting key routes, rapidly increasing the number of services available and protecting the interests of taxpayers in the long term.”
In March, Mr Khan faced criticism after reports of packed tube trains as workers crammed on to services after the lockdown was imposed, with TfL having reduced the number of services.
One NHS worker, Rachel Baines, tweeted a picture, commenting: “I am a frontline NHS worker and this is how I have to travel to work due to @TfL reducing their service and people ignoring the #StayHome message. Absolutely disgusting…”
Another message aimed at TfL said: “Operating a special service DOES NOT help social distancing.
“TFL you need to do better to protect real critical workers rather than just making an announcement on a microphone.
“Couldn’t even get 2cm away from the next person.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock – who was diagnosed with COVID-19 – said: “There is no good reason in the information I’ve seen that the current levels of Tube provision should be as low as they are.”
A spokesman for Mr Khan said Mr Hancock’s claims were “simply not true” – pointing to levels of staff sickness and those in self-isolation for why a full service could not be run.
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