Going down the tube? Why are Transport for London passenger numbers stagnating?
In recent months much comment has been made about TfL’s finances as well as stagnating passenger numbers.
Osborne’s cut means London will be one of the only cities in the western world to operate with no central government operating assistance.
Delving into figures does show stagnation this year compared to last looking at the most recent figures to been released, comparing mid November to December 2016 with mid November – December 2017.
It’s a bit of a mixed bag. Bus usage is up, and that’s one area that has really struggled. It rose from 182.7 million to 183.4 million journeys. That’s still less than proceeding years.
Ever-slower bus speeds have had a big impact in recent years.
The Underground fell from 116.7 million to 115.1 million. This will be a cause for concern and probably highlights underlying economic issues but it is above 2015.
London Overground also fell from 15.7 million to 14 million journeys. This was in large part due to the entire closure of the GOBLIN line (which runs from Gospel Oak to Barking) from 27th November to complete delayed electrification.
Once complete, numbers should be boosted as electrification brings cleaner, faster and longer trains.
The DLR fell modestly from 10.1 million to 10.0 on the same period last year. After rapid growth it has essentially stagnated this year.
On the one hand a large amount of housing is being built along many branches but it serves financial districts at Canary Wharf and the City, so any economic downturn would affect it more if that part of the economy is being hit harder.
And as the DLR network reaches a level where trains are very busy meaning staff cannot move down to check tickets, could the barrier-free network be capitalised by those who do not want to pay?
It’s sometimes even easier to avoid paying than Southeastern Metro. Will TfL introduce gates at certain stations in future?
Tram usage rose from 2.1 million to 2.4 million. Last year the network was recovering from a fatal accident.
Away from TfL and passenger numbers on Southeastern Metro lines mostly recorded modest increases in the year to January 2017, though more detailed detailed data is not available.
Other factors that hit TfL last year were terrorist attacks putting off leisure visitors and possibly a cultural shift of more people working from home. It’s been predicted for years. Is it actually happening on a wide level now?
And lastly, with Crossrail arriving this year numbers could again rise. It’ll lessen pressure on incredibly crowded services such as the Central Line making them more appealing.
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