London’s crowded transport network could face a £1.7bn funding hole by 2018 as a result of the recession, the London Assembly will warn today.

The finance gap could force Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, to increase fares well above inflation or cancel much-needed Tube improvements, according to a report from the body that holds the mayor to account.

Passenger numbers, particularly on the Tube, fall during recessions as commuters lose their jobs. That in turn hits the income of Transport for London, the capital’s transport authority, which depends to a large extent on fares to balance its books.

The assembly’s budget and performance committee’s report estimates that the loss of income could spiral to £1.7bn by 2018. Its most optimistic scenario is a shortfall of £400m.

Financial Times