For a lot of Londoners, our working week looks pretty different now compared to before the pandemic. Anybody who works in an office likely spends at least one day a week working from home – and, because we all like making our weekend feel a bit longer, that’s often a Friday.
And that change in commuter behaviour has clearly impacted ridership on the tube. While midweek passenger numbers are back to around 85 percent of pre-pandemic levels, Fridays are trailing behind at around 73 percent.
As part of a pledge to get those numbers up and support city centre businesses on the last day of the working week, the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has asked TfL to trial off-peak fares for trains and the Underground all day on Fridays.
Peak-time fares currently apply between 6:30am and 9:30am and between 4pm and 7pm – and the trial could lead to some decent savings for commuters.
Transport expert IanVisits outlined some examples. Someone travelling from Zone 1 to Zone 6 would currently pay £5.60 during peak times, but that would be reduced to £3.60 with an off-peak fare. Going from Zone 4 to Zone 2, which would have cost £2.80, would instead cost £1.90.
The Mayor says that support for central London businesses is a key motivation for the trial. Hybrid working has basically meant Thursday has become the new Friday for those post-work pints. The trial will apparently cost TfL £24 million.
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.’
Off-peak fares on Fridays for London’s trains and tubes are set to begin in March for a three-month trial.
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