Transport for London (TfL) says that its off-peak travel has recovered to pre-pandemic levels and exceeded them at times, although commuter traffic is still down on pre-pandemic levels.

Tube figures on Saturdays have surpassed 2019 levels on several occasions including 29th April (104%), 27th May (103%) and 17th June (104%), while the London Pride parade on 1st July saw 6.9 million entries and exits on the Tube network – making it the busiest Saturday on the network since December 2019.

TfL is citing a number of major events in the Capital as bringing people back into town and driving up passenger numbers on public transport. TfL is planning a marketing campaign to promote leisure travel on the network, which could be seen as a return to how London’s transport network used to promote travel for leisure.

In the early days of the integrated transport network, there was a big push, led by Frank Pick to commission posters promoting the many attractions that could be visited by public transport to encourage people to buy tickets and travel there. Everything from football matches to day trips to the parks and evenings in the west end, these are often seen as the golden age of London’s poster design.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing them back on the trains and buses again – a retro campaign not unlike the one that ran earlier this year, or the mini-exhibitions that some stations have, but on a much larger scale. Then again, maybe that’s just me.

Away from the weekends, weekday ridership levels on the Tube and bus are now regularly reaching at least 80 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. London Overground journeys are surging back to around pre-pandemic levels, while bus demand is also seeing a strong recovery at around 80 to 85% of pre-pandemic passenger numbers.

Financially, while off-peak travel is pretty much back to where it was, the lower levels of peak hours travel, particularly commuting into central London leaves a larger hole in TfL’s income than if the recovery was more evenly spread.

That puts London’s public transport network in an awkward position, needing to be able to run a full service to handle the volume of passengers it carries at weekends and the mid-week recovery of commuting traffic, but to do so with less income from fares than it used to receive from commuters buying season tickets.

The travel numbers recovery is good news, but the revenue needs to follow as well.


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  1. Alistair Twin says:

    I wonder if there has been a shift in weekly/monthly/annual travelcard use? I mean if we are at 80% usage but more people are paying for one-off tickets rather than using their unlimited journeys, revenue might not be so different.

    • ianVisits says:

      Revenue is very different, you can check in TfL’s financials which are published on their website every quarter.

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