TRAVELLERS will have to fork out for above-inflation public transport fare rises in the capital in the New Year.

And the daily cost of the London congestion charge for vehicles is also going up soon, it was announced.

Mayor Boris Johnson said Tube fares would have to rise in January by an average of 3.9 per cent, while bus fares would rise by 12.7 per cent.

He also announced that the £8 daily congestion charge fee would rise to £9 for those choosing to pay by a new automated account system and to £10 for those paying by existing methods, with the changes expected to take effect from December 2010.

Mr Johnson said that the decision to put up fares had "not been taken lightly" but a small rise was needed now to prevent huge rises in years to come. He said the increases were necessary to protect Transport for London's (TfL) large investment programme and that he had only sanctioned the increases after ensuring that £5billion efficiency savings were being made at TfL.

The rises on the underground and on the buses are in stark contrast to the situation for national mainline rail season ticket holders who will actually find their fares going down in January thanks to the retail price index inflation figure being in minus territory.

Asked about this seeming discrepancy between national and London fares Mr Johnson said that national rail fares were being "depressed artificially for election purposes" and would inevitably rise after the general election.

TfL is facing a £1.7billion funding gap which the rises in fares and the increase in the congestion charge will go some way towards closing over the next three years.

Mr Johnson said: "Nobody wants to make an announcement like this, especially when Londoners are feeling the effects of the recession. It is not a decision that I have taken lightly.

"The mistakes of the past and the current economic climate have conspired to present us with a huge challenge. The crucial thing is that we safeguard the investment in our city's future and that's why I'm asking Londoners to accept this difficult decision."

What do you think about these fare rises? Are they justified or excessive? Add your comments below.