Free Travel For TFL Family, Friends & Flatmates Under Fire

By Lindsey Last edited 87 months ago
Free Travel For TFL Family, Friends & Flatmates Under Fire

Boris Johnson faced challenges at City Hall yesterday over the TFL employee perk that extends free travel across the network to a family member or nominated partner.

The Evening Standard reports that the cost of supporting these plus-one freebies potentially runs to £30m, without factoring in people working for Tube Lines and the bus companies. And we're not surprised. Who in their right mind would opt not to take up free travel for their nearest and/or dearest, when the cost of a monthly 1-4 Travelcard has pushed through £150?

TFL staff's entitlement to free travel is not in question but the extension of the employee reward to a 'nominated partner' who must merely live at the same address, perhaps seems overly generous, although this clearly covers live-in partners who wouldn't qualify as 'family' as well as flatmates. Scrapping the benefit may well redirect much needed funds back to TFL but would it be worth the inevitable disgruntlement of the workforce and likely strike action that would follow? Let us know in the comments.

Image by Route79 via the Londonist Flickrpool

Last Updated 02 February 2011


I will hold up my hands and say I'm biased as the spouse of a bus driver, but still I say 'no'. This is ridiculous logic. TFL is not spending £30m on this perk. It is just not receiving it, which is entirely different. There is a massive logic gap to say that those who receive this perk would use the system an identical amount if they have to pay.

Also, why TFL alone be targetted about perks? My employer offers health insurance which covers my spouse. Should this go too?

It feels like this is picked on as an emotive subject because the ticket prices are high and the majority of Londoners have to pay them. However, scrapping this perk will not lower ticket prices for the majority, nor provide enough cash to improve services significantly, it will just be another thorn in the side of the the employees of the PRIVATE companies contracted to TFL. Essentially this whole subject is a ruse to deflect attention from the real issues of high ticket prices and rush-hour overcrowding.


Is this a poll? I vote for retention of the perk. I bet plenty of journos get free travel. And as Cat said, the £30m is an entirely notional amount.


Every work place has it's own benefits to encourage employees to do a good job and not work elsewhere. In London, we already have a lower than average standard of living in terms of developed western countries. I feel that of course they should keep this perk. Just like airline staff get free/discounted fares for their families. John Lewis/Waitrose staff get discounted groceries. I'm sure the list goes on. At my last place of work there were literally no perks and in the end I left my position feeling undervalued and overworked!

Dave H

This £30 million figure is, I believe, based on the assumption that every non-TfL employee who receives this 'perk' would otherwise be purchasing an annual Zone 1-6 travelcard. This is a spectacularly unrealistic scenario, and so the £30 million figure that is being waved around is disingenuous headline-seeking nonsense, to say the least.

Of course, the debate about whether family/flatmates should be entitled to this 'perk' is a valid one, but let's not fool ourselves that scrapping it would produce an extra £30 million for TfL. That's simply not realistic.

Oliver Shykles

I say leave it as it is. Many people don't subscribe to practices such as marriage or civil partnerships and should not be penalised for doing so.

Like others here I suspect that 30m figure is vastly exaggerated.


I used to work for TfL. I never took up the option of the second travelcard. I suspect any proper research would prove that not every one of those potential second travelcards has even been issued in the first place.


My partner is a bus driver and therefore I get this 'perk', to be perfectly honest I very rarely use the travelcard and if it wasn't a perk I would never go out and buy it so it really doesn't matter. I think you'll find that a lot of people who have the second travelcard rarley use it and it's not as if you would spend your day jumping on and off buses or trains because you don't pay for it. Saying that you'll find school kids do, do this! So I very much doubt that it would generate £30m.


I just joined TfL. I had three offers on the table and in terms of money TfL was 16% lower. These "perks" are just tax efficient salary. If I were not entitled to it I would demand an equivalent increase in salary or go to the private sector.