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.