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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/14/2011

Free Tube rides for the royal wedding?

By Autumn Brewington

Former London mayor Ken Livingstone has called for free city transport on April 29. (Bloomberg)

We've pointed out a couple of reports this week on rumors of transit strikes that could affect travel around London the day of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding. We didn't expect this story to develop too quickly -- and were surprised to read that former London mayor Ken Livingstone has called for free city transport on April 29.

According to the BBC, Livingstone argues that many using city transportation that day will be unfamiliar with it, and some will be tempted to travel by car, "which in most cases would be the least efficient way to commute." He suggested that "those modes of transport the mayor controls" should offer free service "to make the city move as efficiently as possible."

We don't know how many tourists are expected for the wedding, but London is home to more than 7 million people. We saw a pragmatic suggestion and a political dig in Livingstone's statement that "[s]omething practical, rather than just posturing, needs to be done to make the day go smoothly."

The transit adviser to Mayor Boris Johnson noted that it would be "incredibly expensive" for London taxpayers to subsidize travel for the day.

The BBC also pointed out that Livingstone and Johnson are likely to face off in the next mayoral election. The London transportation system declined to comment.

We're guessing that the transit system is pretty busy with its usual duties plus the negotiations over workers' holiday compensation -- and that, if anything, its leaders are hoping for a wedding-related revenue boost. Put another way, we suspect transit officials are less than thrilled with Livingstone's proposal.

But from a tourist's perspective, the idea has merit. The Tube will no doubt be packed; it's common sense to move riders through the system quickly and curtail long lines of people figuring out ticket purchases. Given the likelihood such a proposal will be adopted, though, we'll hold on to our Oyster card.

By Autumn Brewington  | January 14, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Ceremony, Kate Middleton, Prince William, Travel  
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