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London bus and tube use falls as work-from-home advice updated | Working from home

December 13, 2021

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Passenger numbers on London Underground were down almost 20% in the morning peak on Monday as some – but far from all – took government advice to work from home.

Almost exactly 1m entries or exits to Britain’s busiest public transport network were recorded before 10am, about 220,000 fewer than the previous Monday, as the official guidance to work from home where possible came into effect.

Around 30% fewer people than last Monday also tapped in on Manchester’s Metrolink tram system, according to Transport for Greater Manchester, following the measures announced last week by Boris Johnson to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.

Bus travel in London was down less sharply, with 6% fewer passengers on board before 10am.

Tube usage started to fall back in the second half of last week following the plan B announcement on Monday, with passenger numbers down between 3% and 5% on the previous week’s mornings. The morning rush hour has now fallen back to below half of pre-pandemic levels, at 46% of normal.

However, a greater proportion of people are now using Transport for London’s services later in the day, for work and leisure, possibly attending still-permitted Christmas parties and shopping.

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The reduction in passengers will further hit TfL’s battered finances. On Monday, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed to the Commons a week-long extension to the government’s financial support for the capital, after talks over longer-term funding failed to reach agreement before the weekend deadline.

Shapps said the decision would provide “continued support to and certainty to Londoners while we work with TfL on their funding needs”.

Data was not yet available on national rail travel. Provisional figures from the start of December suggested weekday travel has started to decline from a 2021 peak of just over 70% of normal levels, although weather-related delays as well as fears over renewed Covid transmission were a factor.

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