London mayor live blog – Boris expletive-filled rant at Ken plus transport Q&A

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NY Yankee

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This is a political blog, but since most of the debate pertained to transportation, I posted it here:

Ken Livingstone has made transport fares one of the key issues of the election, promising to cut them by 7% this year and freeze them in 2013. From 2014 they would not rise above inflation. Figures released by the House of Commons library in January showed the average transport fare in London had risen 26% since 2008, when Boris Johnson was elected, with bus fares up 50%.

Johnson is committed to yearly increases of the inflation rate plus 2%, although the popularity of Livingstone's pledge – a recent YouGov poll found 82% of respondents supported it – seems to have spooked him. In the press release launching his policy on driverless trains last week Johnson promised to "hold fares down", giving no further detail.

At the same time he has aggressively characterised Livingstone's fare cut plan as representing a £1.2bn cut in investment, using strikingly Labourite language:

The choice at this election is between investment in our transport system - or cuts in investment at the worst possible time.

Livingstone defended his proposals against such accusations to my colleague Andrew Sparrow in January. His key point was that "in a budget of £8bn if you can't find the money to have a 7% fares cut, you are breathtakingly incompetent". And he rejected a Channel 4 FactCheck analysis that there was no surplus that could be drawn upon to pay for the fares cut. A February 2012 Transport for London board paper highlighted by Livingstone last week (see page one, paragraph two) showed a total £338m surplus in Transport for London's operating budget. Livingstone puts the cost of his fare cut at £270m for the first year.

Livingstone has also posted a video featuring comedian Eddie Izzard explaining his fare cut policy. It is a lot better than a previous one featuring Stephen Pound MP.

Last week Johnson launched his transport policies with an eye-catching pledge to introduce driverless trains on the London Underground within a decade, something he partly justified on the ground that the move would "reduce the bargaining power of the union bosses intent on bringing London to a halt".

Livingstone said that the non-driving staff who would work on these trains instead ("train captains") would still be able to strike. "In other words it doesn't solve the issue of industrial disputes, which is what seems to motivate this convoluted policy from the Tories."

There have been far more tube strikes during Johnson's four years in power than Livingstone's eight. Reaching a no-strike deal with the unions was one of the promises Johnson admitted not being able to keep in his recent assessment of his own record in so far. He is lobbying the government to change strike laws to mandate a minimum turnout of 50% in strike ballots.

Livingstone is essentially promising to return to his former policy of "negotiating with the workforce", which saw, as he put it recently, "the number of shifts on the tube lost due to strike action ... cut by 98%."

Brian Paddick, the Lib Dem candidate, has also hit out at the transport unions, saying: "Londoners need a mayor who will stand up to the unions, not by refusing to meet them until the eleventh hour but by engaging with them, looking the likes of Bob Crow in the eye and being tough but fair with them."

Johnson has proposed a new private-sector funded airport to the east of London, nicknamed "Boris Island", something the government announced in this year's budget it would now consult on. He says this would increase prosperity and the number of jobs in the capital and contribute to the regeneration of east London, while its noise levels would be low because flight paths would be over the Thames Estuary and the North Sea.

By contrast he is firmly opposed to the building of a third runway at Heathrow, saying this would be an "environmental disaster" and promising "it will not be built as long as I am mayor".

Livingstone has said he thinks an a new airport in the Thames Estuary would be "devastating for west London and threaten 114,000 jobs", and would end up downgrading Heathrow "to a regional feeder airport". He calls for investment in high-speed rail as an alternative to air travel, and the construction of two further phases of Crossrail. If more airport capacity is needed "and there is no other alternative", Livingstone says other airports outside London, for example Stansted, should be expanded instead.

Johnson's most visible move as mayor has been the introduction of the cycle hire scheme, first proposed by Livingstone but now completely identified with Johnson to the extent that the cycles are known as "Boris bikes". (We discussed this earlier.) He has overseen improvements to the above-ground local train services (the "Overground"), introduced the Oyster card on national rail services, and made the Freedom Pass for older people valid 24 hours a day. He took "bendy buses" out of service, introducing instead a handful of dramatic new vehicles styled after the popular old Routemaster buses; he says 600 of these will be in service by the end of his second term, each costing no more than "an existing hybrid bus". One of his first policies was to ban drinking on public transport; protest parties on the Underground took place on the last night alcohol was allowed, but the ban now seems widely observed. He scrapped the western extension to the congestion charge and got rid of Livingstone's proposed £25 charge for the most polluting cars.

Johnson pledges to reduce tube delays by 30% by 2015 (Transport for London says delays are already down 40% since 2007-08), to continue construction of the Crossrail east-west rail link and the extensions to the Docklands Light Railway in the east and the Overground – linking it up in the south as an "orbital" railway by late this year – as well as expanding the cycle hire scheme east and west and "exploring expansion" to the south.

He wants to introduce a new code of conduct for 11-16-year-olds who have free travel, launch a strategic review of London's road networks, including a £50bn "congestion-busting fund" to tackle black spots, and continue to upgrade various tube lines in order to increase capacity. He also promises to construct a new tunnel from Greenwich to Silvertown and to "examine the feasibility" of a new pedestrian bridge between Vauxhall and Chelsea bridges.

Both Johnson and Livingstone have proposed that the mayor takes control of National Rail services within London, and both have proposed returning the age older people can get the Freedom Pass to 60.

Livingstone's most high profile and radical policy as mayor concerned transport: the congestion charge for vehicles entering the city centre. During his time in office, he oversaw a modernisation of the transport system, especially the bus network, and introduced the Oyster pre-pay travelcard. A two-tier payment system evolved, with fares for those using Oyster kept relatively low while cash fares increased hugely, in a move which targeted tourists instead of locals and pushed more people into the arms of the quicker Oyster system.

Livingstone today says he would not bring back the western extension to the congestion charge or allow drinking on public transport again, and announced in his "transport manifesto" (read the full document here) that he would not bring back the £25 a day "gas guzzler" charge for the most polluting vehicles either, saying that would be too expensive to implement.

He would leave in place the existing eight new Routemasters introduced by Johnson, "but we are not buying any more, not at £1.3m each", he told the Guardian in January (that price had risen to £2m each by the time his transport manifesto was published – see Johnson's view of their price above).

Livingstone also promises to "start preparatory work" on a cross-river tram scheme originally planned to run from Camden in the north, across Waterloo Bridge, to Peckham and Brixton in the south, which was cancelled by Johnson in 2008 due to lack of funding.

The Labour candidate also says he would roll out the cycle hire scheme "far more widely", mentioning south London, altering it so it was "a far less expensive scheme". He says he would review the contract with Barclays – which he calls "the cheapest sponsorship deal ever" – and would require sponsors to make the scheme more attractive to a wider range of Londoners. Staying with cycling, he would review major junctions, trial a cyclists-only green traffic light phase, redesign the cycle superhighways, expand the "Greenways" cycle routes, extend the Freedom Pass to allow older people to use the cycle hire scheme for free, and work with boroughs for consistent cycle lanes across the capital.

He promises better bus services in the suburbs, and says he will "get a grip" on tube delays, freeze the congestion charge for the full four years of his term, and "build the case" for Crossrail 2 and the South London line to Victoria, and extensions to the Docklands Light Railway and Croydon tram. He would make a third of all tube stations accessible to those who can't use steps by 2016, start a campaign for more courtesy on public transport, including trialling "keep your feet off" designs on buses, introduce a system to allow drivers to get information on their phones about where the nearest parking spaces are, campaign for rickshaws to be banned, and link up pedestrianised spaces in central London so people can walk in a pleasant environment from Bank to Oxford Street.

Livingstone would also campaign against the proposed route of High Speed 2, and for a route "that doesn't demolish hundreds of London homes". And "if it is not too late by May" he would negotiate with the International Olympic Committee to ensure the maximum possible access for black cabs to the Olympic Route Network. Livingstone says he will announce plans to cut air pollution separately at a later date. His campaign has also focused heavily on the 7% fare cut discussed above.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2012/apr/03/boris-johnson-and-ken-livingstone-live-hustings-transport-london

I'm obviously not familiar with London politics, but I get the impression that Boris Johnson is not a popular guy. Livingstone seems like a socialist (I mean that in a good way) and Johnson seems like a conservative. I think congestion pricing is a bad idea. It makes driving so expensive that it forces people to use the Tube, and the system is already past capacity. In addition, London is simply too expensive.
 
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MidnightFlyer

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Correct. BoJo is a Tory, but quite a likeable character. Ken is a former Mayor and is socialist. If the latter told me grass was green I'd check.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I belive Ken also introduced the Congestion charge. Durham was the first UK city to do so a few years previously.
 

jopsuk

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"a likeable character" when in front of a camera or on mic... reportedly in the lift with two other candidates and a journo he was screaming "you f***ing liar" repeatedly in Livingstone's face
 

ainsworth74

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IIt makes driving so expensive that it forces people to use the Tube, and the system is already past capacity. In addition, London is simply too expensive.
The roads are already at or near capacity with the congestion charging so I suspect removing it whilst popular would have little impact besides making the roads even more congested. I certainly doubt that removing congestion charging would have any significant impact on crowding on the tube.
 

Rational Plan

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"a likeable character" when in front of a camera or on mic... reportedly in the lift with two other candidates and a journo he was screaming "you f***ing liar" repeatedly in Livingstone's face
Well that is because Ken is a liar, from his campaign promises to lies about opponents plus he has a tendency to claim credit for things other politicians did at the GLC before he was mayor.
 

jopsuk

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Both Ken and Boris are really rather unpleasant liars. It's a pity the London will sleepwalk into voting one or the other as mayor in May.
 

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One of his first policies was to ban drinking on public transport; protest parties on the Underground took place on the last night alcohol was allowed, but the ban now seems widely observed.
Widely observed? Is this someone who never catches the tube or LO in an evening?


A two-tier payment system evolved, with fares for those using Oyster kept relatively low while cash fares increased hugely, in a move which targeted tourists instead of locals and pushed more people into the arms of the quicker Oyster system.
Well, pushing people onto Oyster was the whole point of the large cash fare rises. I don't think you could argue tourist were targeted as agreements were reached for airlines and airport coach/train companies to sell Oyster cards to people before they reached London (as well as them being easily available at most times anywhere where people are likely to arrive in London.


The Labour candidate also says he would ...

He promises better bus services in the suburbs
An odd one. I'm not aware of any huge gaps in coverage - and London Buses does a lot to work out what journeys people want to do (although obviously there can't be a bus service that does what everyone wants)

I'm obviously not familiar with London politics, but I get the impression that Boris Johnson is not a popular guy. Livingstone seems like a socialist (I mean that in a good way) and Johnson seems like a conservative. I think congestion pricing is a bad idea. It makes driving so expensive thaoyt it forces people to use the Tube, and the system is already past capacity. In addition, London is simply too expensive.
I'd argue that congestion charging is the only thing that makes getting a bus in Central London worth catching - that and the associated increases in frequency on bus routes were the best thing Ken did in his first term.
 

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I don't really like either. I voted for Red Ken last time (based purely on what he'd done previously, don't like him at all as a person) but he loses more of my support every time he opens his mouth at the moment.
 

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As an ex-Londoner (albeit once one of long standing) I'd say that: Ken is a loudmouth and egomaniac, but was mostly a pretty competent and visionary mayor - who has created a valuable legacy that continues to benefit Londoners and London.

The congestion charge was one such thing - there's no way that a city with London's roads can take unlimited cars, and the public transport system in London is really so good that it really isn't necessary to travel by car regularly there for most people anyway. The associated (vast) improvements he made to the bus network (after a period of substantial underinvestment) is another. And introducing (and seeing through the legalities) of the London Overground -making some run-down,even semi-derelict, railway lines into usable, welcoming, frequent, brightly lit places - was another.

And then (for all that the Mayor's remit is pretty much limited to transport and to a certain extent policing) winning the Olympics, and the associated vast regeneration programme of a large run-down part of East London is another....

And (smaller but still significant) the redesign of Trafalgar Square that Livingstone implemented - getting rid of the pigeons a.k.a. "rats with wings",and closing the side by the National Gallery to traffic to make the square a proper place of leisure,rather than the big traffic island it was before-that's another...

And getting the plans for the cycle hire scheme (implemented by Boris after Ken left office) - that's another to chalk up to Ken,really.

By comparison Boris has achieved very little. Main transport-related achievements are the introduction of ONE grossly overpriced gimmicky novelty bus of fancy design and questionable practicality, and the introduction of a set of deeply flawed and sometimes dangerous "cycle superhighways" that are, in general,anything but super. And by being painted the colour of their banking sponsor,blue, they are barely visible under sodium lighting after dark....

Ken has all sorts of vaguely objectionable and misguided views IMO (and politically I would say I lean more to the right than the left, so you might expect me to sympathise more with Boris) but he has proved himself far far far more up to the job of being Mayor of London than Boris.
 

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Ken has all sorts of vaguely objectionable and misguided views IMO (and politically I would say I lean more to the right than the left, so you might expect me to sympathise more with Boris) but he has proved himself far far far more up to the job of being Mayor of London than Boris.
Easier to puch through your projects when you haev 8 years in office though so its rather unfair to compare the two when they have both had differeing terms in power. Most projects do not come to fruition until after the second term.
 

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"a likeable character" when in front of a camera or on mic... reportedly in the lift with two other candidates and a journo he was screaming "you f***ing liar" repeatedly in Livingstone's face
Probably because Livingstone is a f***ing liar.

Having stated on air as fact things he knew were false Livingstone must be in hot water.
 

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Probably because Livingstone is a f***ing liar.

Having stated on air as fact things he knew were false Livingstone must be in hot water.
Aye, If I was Boris then id do him for slander..

Though have you noticed how the newt has tried to deflect all his lies by coming out with 'We should be focusing on policies and not slanging matches' yes the one you started Ken to try and divert the flac from his own tax issues when in office.
 

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Boris would be doomed if he sued, as it would seem like sour grapes or trying to 'cover up'. The fact is, anyone who is anti-Tory (and there are plenty) will have heard what Ken said and take it as fact. It fits the profile, so who cares if Ken has admitted he did it - that's nicely forgotten about.

Any denial will no doubt make it worse for Boris as people just assume he's covering his back and is a typical Tory (because no Labour MPs have ever been in any way corrupt, ever!)
 

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Boris would be doomed if he sued, as it would seem like sour grapes or trying to 'cover up'. The fact is, anyone who is anti-Tory (and there are plenty) will have heard what Ken said and take it as fact. It fits the profile, so who cares if Ken has admitted he did it - that's nicely forgotten about.

Any denial will no doubt make it worse for Boris as people just assume he's covering his back and is a typical Tory (because no Labour MPs have ever been in any way corrupt, ever!)
As Ive said before - its because the general public as a whole are stupid.

But I still reckon he should sue - put the weasel in his place..

But your right will still think the former F1 fella is a nazi loving bondage kind of guy :D
 

AndrewP

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As Ive said before - its because the general public as a whole are stupid.

But I still reckon he should sue - put the weasel in his place..

But your right will still think the former F1 fella is a nazi loving bondage kind of guy :D
So agree but surely a complaint to the electoral commission would be more appropriate?

The other problem is that the BBC (which should be politically neutral) is incredibly pro Labour and Ken - if it was the other way round it would mention the word 'liar' in its headline rather than 'on air dispute'.
 

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So agree but surely a complaint to the electoral commission would be more appropriate?

The other problem is that the BBC (which should be politically neutral) is incredibly pro Labour and Ken - if it was the other way round it would mention the word 'liar' in its headline rather than 'on air dispute'.
This is very true.. I dont think they mentioned it was on a rival radio station either until the video footage appeared this morning with the microphones prominant.
 

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Because of the culture amongst most people who work at the BBC, someone said it they don't know they are biased in the same way a fish doesn't know it is wet :)
 

jon0844

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So agree but surely a complaint to the electoral commission would be more appropriate?

The other problem is that the BBC (which should be politically neutral) is incredibly pro Labour and Ken - if it was the other way round it would mention the word 'liar' in its headline rather than 'on air dispute'.
The BBC biased when it comes to politics? Surely not!

Their headline for the budget coverage was great - along the lines of 'Osborne cuts 50p tax rate'. Well, yes, he did - but there was a little more to it than that!

I don't like in London anymore, so it doesn't really bother me who anyone votes for. I'll probably see little difference when I go into town, and the cost of getting around London still seems to be quite a bargain. In fact, I'm more worried about the cost of getting buses where I live (and even having buses to get on) and the cost of the train TO the travelcard boundary of London.
 

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The BBC biased when it comes to politics? Surely not!

Their headline for the budget coverage was great - along the lines of 'Osborne cuts 50p tax rate'. Well, yes, he did - but there was a little more to it than that!

I don't like in London anymore, so it doesn't really bother me who anyone votes for. I'll probably see little difference when I go into town, and the cost of getting around London still seems to be quite a bargain. In fact, I'm more worried about the cost of getting buses where I live (and even having buses to get on) and the cost of the train TO the travelcard boundary of London.
Surely you appreciated the pink and purple wonder wagons that are uno? :lol:

Conversely, I'd argue that the vote may indeed effect us in the home counties, if the proposal to absorb commuter lines into TfL control goes ahead, we could be boarding LO branded trains instead of FCC by 2016 and using a smart card system to pay for our use of them.
 

jon0844

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Yes, but I feel that the mayor isn't really that important because these things would happen anyway. Besides a few things for either Ken or Boris to get their teeth stuck into, I wonder if London needed a mayor at all.

This all came about when Tony Blair wanted to make Britain a carbon copy of America (or more like New York).

We will get LO expanding out and the extension of the zones, smartcards etc whoever wins.
 

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Surely you appreciated the pink and purple wonder wagons that are uno? :lol:

Conversely, I'd argue that the vote may indeed effect us in the home counties, if the proposal to absorb commuter lines into TfL control goes ahead, we could be boarding LO branded trains instead of FCC by 2016 and using a smart card system to pay for our use of them.
Interesting question: that would mean, effectively, London expanding even further, becoming even bigger and more dominant. Would that be a good or a bad thing? Since most authorities outside London aren't really very good at providing basic services (I think it's probably fair to say), would it be preferable for London (which seems, as has been remarked before, to exist on different rules from the rest of the country so that money never seems to be an object) to take over provision of public Transport, at least?
 

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London is among the most visited cities in the world. In addition, people from all over the world move to London. However, the city will eventually reach a point where it can no longer support a population increase. Do you guys in the UK really want London to become the next Tokyo?
 

MidnightFlyer

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London is among the most visited cities in the world. In addition, people from all over the world move to London. However, the city will eventually reach a point where it can no longer support a population increase. Do you guys in the UK really want London to become the next Tokyo?
My initial reaction would be to say that it will just branch out. I mean, 100 years ago Romford was an isolated market town, and Dagenham & Redbridge's ground was among farmer's fields. Going further back, when the railway first reached New Malden it was much like Romford - almost too small to be called even a town. Kingsbury and Queensbury I believe were names made up by the railways when they first arrive, now they are a good few miles from the nearest rural area.

However, after WW2 Greenbelt was created to stop urban expansion; London I think was included, as were many other cities and large conurbations, so I'm not sure what could be done to expand massively, maybe just work on what they have.

I do have to agree that the UK as a whole is getting a little too full though, maybe we need to stop being seen as one of the refugee capitals of the world.
 

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London is among the most visited cities in the world. In addition, people from all over the world move to London. However, the city will eventually reach a point where it can no longer support a population increase. Do you guys in the UK really want London to become the next Tokyo?
No because Tokyo is Japans biggest anagram..

We cant support our population but it goes deeper then that.. The LO branded train proposition is a red herring - its too complicated and at the moment they cant seem to get existing LO services right either.

and no TOC nor the DfT at the moment would give up such prize routes and monies to a London based franchise.
 
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