BORIS JOHNSON has today dismissed calls to srap next year’s planned 7% public transport fare rises.

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The London Mayor has been under pressure to abandon the increasingly unpopular inflation plus-2% formula for annual fare hikes he has used over the past three years, but Johnson told the London Assembly today that he was not prepared to use “artificial freezes”.

In May, nearly half of Londoners surveyed by the Tory Mayor’s own City Hall said that high fares were top of their list of London concerns, up from a third two years ago. That figure is likely to increase when the new 7% higher ticket prices kick in in January 2012, just a few months before the next Mayoral election.

Johnson’s main rival for the Mayor’s job – Labour’s Ken Livingstone – has been quick to sense a weakness and urged his opponent to “listen to the majority of Londoners who want above inflation increases to end”.

Livingstone calculates that bus fares for regular users have gone up by £176 a year over the three years Johnson has been in office.

The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have called for a review process to go ahead before the new fares come in.