Transport for London (TfL) says that it has seen a 19 percent drop in tube passengers, and a 10 percent drop in bus passengers since the Covid coronavirus crisis gathered momentum in the past couple of weeks.

A lot of this is being put down to people working from home and travelling less for leisure.

In an update about the financial impact of the Covid virus on TfL’s current forecast, based on government scenarios, suggests that this could be a reduction in passenger income of up to £500 million. They noted that this is an evolving situation and the financial impact is difficult to predict, and it will depend on the duration and severity of the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

TfL said that it’s current financial policies require it to keep a minimum cash balance of approximately £1.2 billion to provide liquidity to absorb sudden financial shocks. Above this, TfL aims to hold a further £600 million for other strategic risks, for example sudden reductions in passenger numbers due to a pandemic.

TfL’s current cash balance of over £2 billion is above the required minimum and allows the initial impact of Covid-19 to be managed, but TfL said that it will consider further measures if needed to ensure it maintains its financial resilience.

TfL was already seeing an underlying softness in demand and passenger revenue, largely caused by economic uncertainty since October 2019, with both London Underground and bus revenues trending at around two percent below the previous year. During February 2020 TfL’s revenue was further affected by three significant storms and a period of prolonged bad weather.

TfL said that it is also planning what it needs to do to recover once the pandemic has subsided.

In the meantime, TfL says that it is following and communicating advice from Public Health England, including that there is no specific risk on public transport, and has stepped up the cleaning regime on its services and in its work environments beyond the already existing standards.



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5 comments on “Sharp drop in London Underground and bus passengers due to Covid
  1. “£500 million” is 18% of total London Underground annual ticket income… That means that the “government scenarios” are a lot darker than they might already seem!

    Still, if they can close the whole system down for a few weeks, they could do all the pending maintenance and upgrades.

  2. MilesT says:

    I suspect TfL (and their franchised operators) will “salami slice” the services in the coming weeks to conserve cash:
    * reduce frequencies of daytime and eveing tube, bus, tram and train, maybe reducing start/finish times to Sunday times
    * cut the night tube entirely for the duration
    * severely reduce frequencies of night buses
    * cut revenue protection staff hours, and other “enforcement” staff
    * cut peak dispatcher hours on train platforms.

  3. Melvyn says:

    I had my C2C carriage to myself until I reached Upminster and then only a few passengers got on ….. I suppose they are at home counting their sheets of toilet paper!

  4. Steve Doole says:

    Is it just me being picky, or has cleanliness of train floors deteriorated over the last year or so? Overground and Underground train floors are not as clean as they once were, even the relatively new District line and newer (with more black paint on the outside) Overground trains.

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