Untapped Resource: Bearing down on fares through sponsorship

Gareth Bacon, Author of Untapped Resource




Sponsorship is big business. Yet despite much noise and positioning from Transport for London (TfL) over recent years and signals that the organisation is ready to embrace sponsorship on London’s public transport, TfL has so far remained resistant to using commercial sponsorship on its existing services. Is this the right attitude? This report argues that TfL’s cautious approach to sponsorship is wrong. TfL has argued that there is no advantage to Londoners of allowing commercial brands onto the tube map, save the finance that might arise from it. Yet if this finance can be used for a purpose that is clearly in the public interest, then significant advantages for Londoners exist.

The difficult financial situation that all public sector organisations currently face, combined with the upward trend of both fares and the cost of living, add further weight to the need for TfL to look again at their policies for sponsorship. The presumed unacceptability of allowing wider commercial sponsorship is also a major barrier. For this report, a poll was conducted asking Londoners about their views. It shows that this barrier is non-existent amongst the vast majority of Londoners, should the money raised be used effectively.

In a poll of 531 Londoners undertaken by Censuswide for GLA Conservatives, a massive three-quarters of respondents (74%) agreed that TfL “should expand their use of sponsorship across public transport in London and use the money generated to freeze or cut fares.” 33% strongly agreed. Only 6% of respondents disagreed with this statement. These polling results show that Londoners are clearly in favour of TfL expanding their sponsorship programme if the money raised is used to make changes that are in the interest of the fare payer, such as bearing down on fares.
The poll also asked about the acceptability of a range of different examples of sponsorship that TfL could pursue. 39% would support a longer-term (5-10 years), location-specific renaming of an existing underground station (e.g. “Knightsbridge, Home of Harrods”). 42% of respondents would support sponsorship of bus routes. Less than one in five respondents (19%) were opposed to additional sponsorship on public transport.


Sponsorship report

Download the report: Click here



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Gareth Bacon, author of Untapped Resource