Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Khan Pledges to `Sweat the Assets' of London's Transport Network

  • Labour mayoral candidate outlines strategy to freeze fares
  • Khan puts pitch to be business-friendly at center of campaign

Sadiq Khan, the Labour Party candidate for London mayor, said he’ll “sweat the assets” of the capital’s transport agency to keep down fares for commuters if he wins the May 5 election to succeed Boris Johnson.

Borrowing language from business as he seeks to distance himself from the socialist policies of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, Khan said land owned by Transport for London could be used for housing, while savings could be made by streamlining rail engineering and by stopping fare evasion. Forty percent of bus services in London are run by French, German and Dutch companies, and TfL should itself be bidding to run routes around the world, he said.

“One of the things we need to do is increase the revenue streams from TfL,” Khan told an audience of business leaders in London on Wednesday. “That shouldn’t be from fares as my opponent suggests. We should be sweating the assets better.” Hong Kong’s transport network “raises more money by clever use of property than from fares,” and London should follow the same model, Khan said.

Khan’s Conservative opponent, Zac Goldsmith, has highlighted the Labour candidate’s links to Corbyn, whom he nominated to be leader of the party, as he attempts to overhaul Khan’s lead in the polls.

An Opinium poll of 1,011 Londoners published on Tuesday showed Khan on 31 percent compared with 26 percent for Goldsmith on first-preference votes. The survey, conducted online between March 2 and 7, suggested Khan would win after adding the second-preference votes of smaller-party candidates.

Hyde Parks

Khan, who described the election as a “referendum on housing,” said TfL owns land equivalent to 16 times the area of Hyde Park in central London, which could be used to build “homes for Londoners” while retaining ownership of the land so there is a continuing income to help subsidize fares.

“I’ll be the most pro-business mayor London has ever had,” Khan said. “Working together we’ll make London fairer while making it richer.”

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