New mayor wants to set up a Transport for London commercial arm with the ability to operate local transport services in London, the UK and abroad


sadiq_khanSadiq Khan arrives at London Bridge Tube station on his first day at City Hall (Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire/Press Association Images)


London’s newly elected mayor, Sadiq Khan, is likely to face opposition to his plans to establish “a trading arm that can run bus and other local transport services” and sell Transport for London’s expertise, at home and abroad.

The idea appeared in the former Labour transport minister’s election manifesto, upon which he secured 56.8% of the vote in last week’s mayoral election.

“The revenues it makes will be used to keep fares down in London just as foreign state-owned transport firms currently take profits made here to subsidise their services,” the manifesto stated.

Khan’s manifesto also said he would enable TfL’s new commercial arm to compete with private operators for contracts to operate London’s 9,000 buses.

The UK’s major transport groups appear reluctant to pick a fight with a newly elected mayor who is riding a wave of goodwill.

“We will need to look more closely at the detail as the policy develops before taking a firm position,” Simon Posner, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport said this week.

However, Mark Yexley, an independent consultant who formerly headed Arriva’s bus business in London, told Passenger Transport that he expected the private operators who currently run London’s buses to be “thoroughly unimpressed”.

Yexley, who retired from his role as operations and commercial director at Arriva UK Bus last year, said setting up a trading arm could be a “huge potential distraction” for TfL. He also said that TfL’s previous in-house bus operator, East Thames Buses, was expensive and provided a poor quality service before it was sold off to Go-Ahead Group in 2009.


The full story appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

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