Transport for London has announced that 7,000 of its staff are to be put on furlough, the government scheme to fund salaries while people can’t do their jobs.

This represents around a quarter of TfL’s direct workforce.

Although announced to staff last week, details were still being sorted out. The move comes into effect from Monday, and under the scheme the staff need to be off work for at least three weeks, which gives an indication of how long TfL are expecting the lockdown to last.

The Government’s Job Retention Scheme is expected to reduce TfL’s direct costs by £15.8m every four weeks, helping to slightly offset the huge reduction in revenue from fares that has hit the organisation.

At the moment TfL is spending around £600 million a month to keep services running for key workers, and has faced a catastropic collapse in revenue with tube passenger numbers down by 95% and bus passengers down by 85% since the lockdown started.

Although the government picks up 80% of the salary up to £2,500 per month, TfL will be paying the remainder of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions.

London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown, MVO said: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic. We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but nevertheless the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90 per cent. We are now taking steps to use the Government’s Job Retention Scheme to further reduce our costs where work has been paused because of the virus, while at the same time supporting our staff financially.”

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