The London mayoral election comes down to a choice between two clowns. The options are so awful that I can't make my mind up. Ken's cynical promise to cut bus fares might be the decider.
There is an income statement behind London's public transport system. If Ken reduces fares, then the lost revenues have to be made up elsewhere. Ken suggests that the fare reduction can be paid by using TfL's operating surplus. For those unfamiliar with this accounting concept, the operating surplus does not include any adjustment for capital depreciation. In simpler terms, Ken will pay for the fare reduction by using up the funds used to buy new buses.
That will work over the short run, but it is an extremely unattractive transport policy. Over time, the lack of capital investment will lead to a more unreliable service. Ultimately, Londoners will be paying next to nothing for a bus service that doesn't work. In a word - socialism.
Ken and his transport wrecking flunkies will argue for fare reductions in terms of poverty. Poor people need cheap transport. Well, poor people need lots of things; why not subsidize bread, Walkers crisps or Diet Coke? What about the poor people who cycle rather than use the bus, or those that walk to the shops. How do they benefit from this poorly targeted welfare scheme.
Ken's transport scam epitomizes all that is wrong with welfare in Britain. It is poorly targeted. Large numbers of middle class people, who can fully afford to pay, will benefit. Many poor people will miss out completely. It is financial vandalism. The scheme isn't properly costed out. He will use the resources needed for investment to pay for current expenditures. It is politically cynical. The fare cut will wreck the transport system long term in order to give short term political benefit for Ken.