The London Assembly Conservatives are on the warpath again, this time over the cost of providing free travel to friends and family of Transport for London staff.
TfL employees get to name one member of their household (e.g. a partner or flatmate) for a 'nominee pass' as a perk. As of November 2014, 22,239 of these passes were considered 'active' and the Tories wanted to know how much that was costing. TfL initially said 'nil', so the party used some (fairly sweeping, it has to be said) averages to decide the cost is more like £22m a year. TfL now says the additional revenue it would have collected would be in the region of £7m. So that's clear.
The Conservatives would like the passes scrapped asap and the money saved — however much that would actually turn out to be — diverted elsewhere. Based on the £22m figure, they think TfL could give firefighters free travel in the same way the Met gives police officers free travel (though we assume that's partly because police may need to catch public transport as part of their duties, rather than a reward for being a frontline public servant). Or they suggest more cycle hire docking stations could be rolled out to Putney, Wandsworth and Battersea (all Tory voting areas, there; what about cycle hire deserts like Lewisham, Peckham or Rotherhithe?). Or TfL could do those things by just not, you know, part-funding the Garden Bridge.
TfL also points out — with what one imagines is a world weary sigh — that removing the passes would cause an unholy row with the unions. Nominee passes aren't in employee contracts but are clearly a perk of the kind many people enjoy (like childcare vouchers, or season ticket loans). Removing them would, TfL says, lead to claims for increased pay and probably industrial action. Which is probably right. Is it worth the hassle?
Read the report yourself on the London Assembly Conservatives' website.