The mainstream media can be pretty sickening at times. Boris might originally have sneaked out the doubling of bus fares for London’s poorest on a Bank Holiday Sunday, but the news that he was definitely not going to find ‘alternative’ ways to keep their fares discounted came out on a perfectly ordinary weekday, today.

How did ITV London Tonight and BBC London report this revealing illustration of Boris’s true priorities for the capital? Here’s their coverage, quoted in full:

 
 
 

What did they cover instead? ITV decided Boris’s ‘so-called minor crime’ in Iraq was more newsworthy than his [or unnamed others’] deliberate decision to impoverish further the poor.

Meanwhile, both channels went big on TfL’s news release about cooling the Tube this summer, particularly its imagination-catching references to 40 huge fans being wheeled in to help airflow in key stations.

In the release, Boris just stops short (for once) of claiming the credit for any of the cooling plans, although the insertion of part of his election patter into the quotation from him leaves me in little doubt that this is intended to give the impression that he’s fulfilling one of his manifesto pledges, which BackBoris.com reminds me said:

I will look again at having an air-conditioned tube.

Ah yes, one of those detailed, specific pledges we all came to love during the campaign. As even the Evening Standard pointed out back then, air-conditioning on deep lines isn’t possible, but air-conditioning on the shallow (‘sub-surface’) lines has long been planned as part of the ongoing renovation works.

There’s no way Boris has (or his shadowy controllers have) had any input or influence over the cooling plans announced today, but he’s happy to soak up some of the pleasant fresh air blowing in on their fans in the news release, and in doing so distract the media from the real story today, that Boris’s administration has deliberately and decisively taken action to double the fares of London’s poorest travellers. I can’t see that pledged on the transport manifesto page.

Update: Or could it be that the mainstream media had beaten us bloggers to noticing what Dave Hill’s just pointed out: Boris is giving out very mixed messages on this front.

In one written response to Darren Johnson of the Greens he makes specific reference to his priority being “keeping the overall level of bus fares as low as possible”, rather than offering a discount.

But in the next, he instead commits TfL to further investigation of concessions for low-income Londoners, “for consideration at the next fares revision”.

So he’s kicked the issue further into the long grass, basically. I look forward to the “next fares revision”, which I think comes at the start of January. I hope the thousands of poor Londoners whose discount cards run out in the interim period take comfort from the fact that the doubling of their fares might be temporary…

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7 Responses to Boris’s biggest fans

  1. BenSix says:

    I believe that alternative measures are still being considered. Boris stated that he had “asked TfL to investigate more suitable forms of fares concession for low income Londoners”.
    I wouldn’t like to bet that these considerations will be fruitful, however.

  2. I’ve no idea if your comment predated my update or not but thanks anyway! I missed that second response when I was skimming the PDF earlier. Hopefully I’ll have time to read the rest of the PDF properly at some point.

    Oh, just remembered one question (and answer) I was going to highlight out of sheer bizarreness…

  3. BenSix says:

    Heh, yes, we were writing concurrently.
    As we’re all, I believe, elsewhere tomorrow, should we put out a request for reports from the State of London Debate?

  4. Good plan. Over to you, unless I hear otherwise!

  5. Tory Troll says:

    It’s alternative concessions rather than alternative ways of funding the existing concession that are being investigated. That’s a crucial difference. He may or may not come up with some other way of discounting fares, but until he does (or doesn’t) we can only go by the actual solid decision that has been made, which is to scrap the half-price scheme.
    Otherwise it’s a bit like us saying ‘Gordon Brown has decided to scrap the 10p rate, but he continues to look for other ways of helping the less well off.’ You have to cut through the spin and reviews and actually look at what has been decided. The half-price scheme has been scrapped. There was a hint that there may be a u-turn and that it would be funded in another way but it is clear that is not the case now. If he comes up with something later which amounts to a half price fare or better then I will welcome it. But the emphasis on overall fare levels suggests otherwise.

  6. BenSix says:

    True, Tory Troll, but what I was pointing out was that it is not as simple as saying that they “aren’t looking into alternatives”. I still think that it’s a dreadfully blithe decision, but we should nevertheless detail all the information that has been released.
    I’d think that I’ve expressed the problem fairly here*.
    * http://www.boriswatch.co.uk/2008/06/24/boris-abandons-half-price-fares/

  7. BenSix says:

    Ah, I’ve read the whole document and see exactly what you mean.
    The original post has now been edited.
    * http://www.boriswatch.co.uk/2008/06/24/boris-abandons-half-price-fares/
    (By the way, in trying to edit this comment I may have accidentally deleted a new one, so if you’ve tried to post and it hasn’t appeared I do apologise)

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