Off-peak tube and rail fare trial to start on Fridays in London | TfL
Transport for London will trial lower, off-peak fares on Fridays on the tube and rail services in the capital to try to tempt back passengers who have stayed at home since the pandemic lockdowns.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, said the trial would begin in March and last for three months.
London has a large number of services workers who were predominantly able to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic and have continued to do so since restrictions lifted, as well as a large proportion of people who rely on public transport to get them to work.
The mayor’s office said that weekend rider numbers have recovered to about what they were before the pandemic but fewer people are using the tube and rail services during the week. Midweek ridership was at 85% but on Fridays that dropped to 73%.
Khan hopes that the cheaper fares will encourage more people to come into the city, “potentially supporting economic growth” by helping bars, restaurants and music venues. Increased passenger numbers could also help Transport for London (TfL), whose finances were severely affected. That led to a standoff between TfL and ministers over a series of bailouts.
The initiative comes in the run-up to the local elections in May, when Khan is favourite to retain the mayoralty over the Conservative rival, Susan Hall. Hall said she believed the trial would not make a significant difference, according to the BBC.
Peak fares apply between 06.30 and 09.30 and between 16.00 and 19.00 on TfL and National Rail services in London. The mayor’s office said it would save £2 for someone on a journey from the city’s outer zone 6 into the central zone 1, with the fare dropping from £5.60 to £3.60. The policy is expected to cost £24m.
Khan said: “London has really bounced back since the pandemic, but the lack of commuters returning on Fridays is a clear exception – with a major knock-on effect on our shops, cafes and cultural venues. That’s why I’ve asked TfL to trial off-peak fares on Fridays, and I encourage Londoners to get involved.
“A trial will help us to see if it’s an effective way of increasing ridership and giving a welcome boost to businesses as we continue to build a better, fairer, more prosperous London for everyone.”
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, a lobby group for hotels, pubs and restaurants, said: “There’s no doubt that Fridays have suffered as a result of changes to working patterns since the pandemic, and hospitality businesses have felt that loss of commuter trade.
“Responding to these challenges with innovative trials like off-peak Fridays is exactly the type of flexible approach needed to boost journey numbers and stimulate footfall in our venues. I hope we’ll see positive results from the trial, for hospitality businesses, commuters and the wider economy.”