Photograph: Debra Hurford Brown/PA
After multiple problems with London transport services, such as strikes, they will apply lower trials, off-peak fares on Fridays on the tube and railway services in the capital to try and tempt passengers back, those who have stayed at home since the pandemic lockdowns.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, had announced that the trial would begin in March and last for three months.
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.
Many service workers from London were predominantly able to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic. They have continued to do so since restrictions lifted, including a large proportion of people who rely on public transport to get them to work.
Fewer amounts of people are using tube and rail services during the week and the mayor’s office said weekend rider numbers had recovered to about what they were before the pandemic. Midweek ridership was also at 85% but on Fridays that dropped to 73%.
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.
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.
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 initiative comes in the run-up to the local elections in May, when Khan is favourite to retain the mayoralty over his Conservative rival, Susan Hall. Hall said she believed the trial would not make a significant difference, according to the BBC.
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.
“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.”
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