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Bus And Tube Fares To Rise Above Inflation

(c) Sky News 2012

London mayor Boris Johnson was today accused of trying to bury bad news as he confirmed above-inflation increases in tube and bus fares.

He announced a 4.2% average increase from January 2 2013 - and said the figure would have been higher had he not managed to secure additional funding of £96m.

The rise is 1% above the rate of RPI inflation when it was measured in July and used as a benchmark for the planned increase and matches the average rises facing national mainline season ticketholders.

Oyster card tube payments were to be frozen but that did not prevent a furious attack from Manuel Cortes, the leader of the TSSA rail union, who said: "Boris deserves a gold medal in cynicism. Not only does he try to bury bad news on the back of Obama's victory, he also jacks up fares at twice the rate of inflation.

"He also manages to break two election pledges into the bargain, by hiking charges for bikes as well as inflation-busting fare increases. He is the Pinocchio of British politics."

The mayor had also confirmed that charges for his "Boris bike" Barclays Cycle Hire scheme would double.

Such a move would see daily hire going up from £1 to £2, weekly access rising from £5 to £10 and yearly membership going up from £45 to £90.

The bike project has suffered financially as the majority of trips are made within the free 30-minute usage charge period but it was confirmed there would be no additional penalties for late return, non-return and bicycle damage.

Mr Johnson said: "Before the end of the year I will spell out further investment on the transport network that will help us to provide faster, more frequent and reliable journeys for Londoners, which is crucial to the economic development and growth that is so vital to our great city.

"This fares package is hugely important to our millions of passengers and I am very pleased to have secured nearly £100m that will help to keep fares as low as possible, and protect the important concessions that we offer the most vulnerable Londoners."

But Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, said the mayor should have announced a fare freeze.

He explained: "This increase shows that we are still paying off a heavy price for the expensive failure of the PPP (public-private partnership) privatisation disaster.

"It also means that the mayor has no excuse for cutting staff and closing ticket offices as he's lumping on above-inflation fare rises.

"We believe there should be a policy of freezing fares to recognise the tough times people are facing, to increase the use of public transport and to help boost the economy."

His words were backed by Richard Hebditch, campaigns director at Campaign for Better Transport.

He said: "Earlier this week, Boris Johnson rightly received plaudits for his support for a living wage in the capital. His position on public transport is in stark contrast.

"By putting fares up above inflation, he is hitting hard-pressed families in the pocket simply for travelling to work."