It might have taken a global pandemic to force it from him, but Mayor Khan has finally admitted that running a major metropolitan transport system on massively reduced funding simply isn't feasible.
Khan told the media on 14 May that: "Unless the government today gives us confirmation of the grant that we need then the consequences could be quite severe and the ramifications for all of us will be huge. Ironically at a time when the government’s wanting us to increase services, ramp up services to get into the recovery phase, we may be required to cut services because the government is failing to give us the grant support we desperately need."
Quite extraordinary, really: Khan's essentially saying, "fund us or the job shuts down"... a tone more usually adopted by union militants! TfL has been running on a radically reduced budget for years now, and Mayor Khan has barely raised a whisper of protest, despite unions repeatedly demanding that he backs campaigns for restored funding. So is this a case of "better late than never"?
While it might be tempting to welcome Khan's apparently newly discovered backbone, the phrase "we may be required to cut services" should set alarm bells ringing. RMT has rightly written to LU Managing Director Andy Lord demanding guarantees that jobs and terms and conditions will be protected. We need to keep our demands clear: public transport in the capital should be properly funded, by central government, with the rich and businesses whose profits rely on the system being taxed to pay for it. That demand only becomes more vital in the context of the current crisis.
If Khan is planning cuts, we need to be prepared to resist them.