Khan hopes for Transport for London deal to help Covid recovery across country

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has said he hopes the Government will agree a funding deal with Transport for London (TfL) to ensure they can continue to invest in public transport and create jobs across the country.

Mr Khan said he was keen to “build bridges” with the Government as he visited an electric bus factory in North Yorkshire, which manufactures state-of-the-art vehicles for London’s 500-strong zero-emission fleet.

He said he believed the Government had used TfL as a “political football” ahead of the mayoral election but that he hoped they could now work together to help the country recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Khan told the PA news agency: “The population of London is more than Scotland and Wales put together.

“We’re a city of about 10 million and so we are really proud to contribute to our country’s recovery but, in the short term, we do need support from the Government because there are fewer passengers using our tubes, our buses, and so, in the short term, we need support from the Government to make sure TfL continues to be world class but also continues to buy the buses that we need.

“I’m hoping the Government does a deal with us so we can continue to invest in public transport and in Yorkshire.”

He added: “I think in advance of the election there were party political games being played, they were using TfL as a political football.

“Now the election’s out of the way, I’m really hoping the Government and City Hall can work closely together, the Department for Transport (DfT) and TfL can work closely together. I’m keen to build bridges with the Government, with DfT, with other parts of the country, because I think we can’t get a recovery without all of us playing our role and that includes the Government with TfL.”

Mr Khan was visiting Switch Mobility, in Sherburn in Elmet, with Tracy Brabin, who is newly elected as the first mayor of West Yorkshire.

The company currently provides 67 of the electric buses operating in London and is planning to deliver another 30 as part of Mr Khan’s target of making the bus network zero-emission by 2030.

Sadiq Khan and Tracy Brabin
Sadiq Khan and the mayor of West Yorkshire Tracy Brabin during a visit to Switch Mobility (Amy Murphy/PA)

It estimates that around 50% of its revenue in 2020 was from TfL contracts – which contribute around £6.4 billion to the economy overall.

The ambition to tackle emissions in the capital will see a £4 billion investment into bus manufacturing in locations such as Ballymena, Scarborough and Falkirk, helping to grow local economies across the UK.

Mr Khan said the need to level-up cities and regions across the UK would not take wealth or jobs away from London and that regions working together as equal partners would benefit all areas.

He said: “I think a levelling strategy where you make London poorer to make our country equal is not the way to go. Levelling up should be levelling up in the real sense of the word, where the Government should be giving all parts of our country more powers and resources to help each other.

“For example, we in London haven’t got the state-of-the-art manufacturing you’ve got here, we’ve not got the skilled workforce you’ve got here, but we do need extra buses.

“We think it’s great for London, great for our air, great for the green economy and so, by us investing in Yorkshire, it benefits people in Yorkshire but also in London. It’s a win-win.”