(AFP) – Mar 30, 2008
LONDON (AFP) — The London mayor attacked his Tory challenger Boris Johnson over the cost of re-instating the capital's iconic Routemaster buses Sunday, a day before Johnson was to be joined on the mayoral campaign trail by Conservative Party leader David Cameron.
Ken Livingstone -- who is facing stiff competition from Johnson in the forthcoming mayoral election -- challenged Cameron to stand by Johnson despite the latter's "falsely costed transport policy", according to a statement from Livingstone's campaign team.
"David Cameron tomorrow faces a choice that affects the basic credibility and honesty of the Tory Party not only in London but throughout the country," it read.
"Cameron must personally know that Boris Johnsons bus policy for London is under-costed by 100 million pounds a year because every single independent expert who examined it has said so."
Johnson has stated that in his first act as London mayor he would phase out London's oft criticised 'bendy buses' and re-instate the iconic Routemasters with conductors.
According to Johnson, bendy buses are unsuitable for London's streets as "they are twice as dangerous as non-articulated buses and have almost three times the rate of fare evasion."
Earlier this year Johnson claimed it would cost 8 million pounds a year to put conductors on new and updated Routemasters.
But Livingstone has blasted this figure, arguing that the real cost lies well over 100 million pounds.
"The real cost of Boris Johnsons policy would be 114 million pounds a year -- equivalent to a 15 percent bus fare increase across the whole of London, with the price of a weekly bus pass going up by 2 pounds a week," the mayor said in his statement.
Livingstone urged Cameron to acknowledge the real cost of Johnson's transport policy.
"Cameron must either publicly defend Boris Johnson's claimed costs of his transport policies, and stand exposed as being as incompetent as his candidate for Mayor of London, or state that Boris Johnson must present honestly-costed policies to Londoners."
The London mayoral election will take place on May 1st.
It is widely regarded as a two-horse race between Labour's Livingstone, seeking a third straight term, and the Conservative Party's Johnson.
The other major candidate is the Liberal Democrats' Brian Paddick.
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