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Government Tube plans do not fit mayor's transport strategy

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GOVERNMENT PLANS to push through the part privatisation of London Underground are incompatible with London mayor Ken Livingstone's integrated transport strategy, a leading economist said this week.

London School of Economics director Tony Travers was speaking after the government won a judicial review of the controversial public partnership plans (PPP) for the privately funded Tube upgrade.

The judgement gives it the right to push the plans through despite opposition from Livingstone and his transport department Transport for London (TfL) (see box).

Travers warned that the incompatibility would now make it 'less easy and conceivably impossible' for TfL to mesh programmes for its transport strategy with the PPP.

Livingstone has decided not to appeal against the decision.

But under the PPP, contractors will have no obligation to install integrated transport information boards on underground platforms, for example, to inform passengers that a bus is waiting for them outside.

Nor can they be forced to introduce the infrastructure for 'Smartcard' through ticketing systems, that would allow passengers to buy one ticket for any trip involving the bus, train and underground.

Travers said the incompatibility between the PPP and the mayor's strategy had emerged because TfL's transport strategy, drawn up to include its own version of tube upgrade plans, is target based, while the PPP contracts are incentive based.

Target based projects are founded on completion of physical work and have specific completion deadlines. They include plans to introduce through tickets covering all of London's transport modes including the Tube by 2002.

Consortia carrying out the privately financed £13bn upgrade of the Underground are driven more by the need to meet performance targets.

Their performance is measured by their ability to improve train frequency and reliability by agreed percentages each year.

Beating these performance criteria will earn them bonuses.

Clauses can be added to the PPP contracts to include measures like through ticketing provisions, but these would be subject to negotiation and extra payments.

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