London Tube Loses Almost One Fifth of Riders in One Week
(Bloomberg) -- The number of people using London’s subway fell by almost a fifth after the government advised people to work from home because of the rapid spread of the omicron variant of Covid-19.
Figures for the Monday-morning rush hour up until 10 a.m. showed that the number of entries and exits on the Tube, as the city’s underground rail system is known, dropped 18% from the previous week. Travel by bus, which tends to include more schoolchildren, was down only 6% as schools stayed open, according to Transport for London.
The drop in Tube ridership comes as the service holds talks aimed at securing more emergency funding, with changes in travel patterns due to the pandemic leading to a growing black hole in TfL’s finances. The group that runs London’s public transport network said late Friday that those discussions are continuing with the government, which for now plans to extend emergency funding until Dec. 17.
Firms in the City of London began telling staff to work from home again last week, in response to the latest government guidance. Even before the change, some City of London employees had returned to working from home to avoid catching the virus before Christmas.
The U.K. also tightened the rules governing wearing masks on public transport late last month. TfL said that since Nov. 30, almost 18,000 customers had been approached and 733 fines issued.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far resisted demands to further tighten Covid restrictions, with a growing number of his party members threatening to rebel against new measures.
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