BTN Europe presents an overview of business travel and MICE predictions for this year
Transport for London (TfL), the authority in charge of the majority
of the UK capital’s transport network, has secured a £1.6 billion emergency
funding package to keep services running until September.
According to the bailout’s terms, London mayor Sadiq Khan
will be expected to restore a full Underground service as soon as possible to
ease congestion under the government’s guidance for people to return to work if
they cannot work from home, and he has also agreed to increase bus and Tube
fares by 1 per cent above inflation – breaking a promise for “cost of living”
increases he made during this year’s mayoral election campaign, which has now
been postponed to 2021.
The funding came late Thursday after Khan had warned TfL might
have had to shut down services without support. The authority earlier said it
expected to lose £4 billion as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, with average
passenger numbers on the Underground down 95 per cent and down 85 per cent on
TfL said it costs £600 million a month to keep the network
running on a reduced service, with 7,000 staff – about 25 per cent of its
workforce – out on furlough to cut costs. Many other staff members are ill, shielding,
or self-isolating, according to London’s transport commissioner Mike Brown.
Brown said: “We have been operating up to 70 per cent of
peak Tube services and over 80 per cent of bus services… From next week, we will
further increase services beyond this as we progressively build towards
restoring services to pre-Covid levels.
“Enormous challenges remain, including agreeing longer term
sustainable funding for transport in the capital. In the meantime, we will continue
to do everything in our power to help deliver a successful recovery for our
Following advice from the government and the mayor, TfL is
asking people who can work from home to continue doing so in order to ease
congestion for those who must travel to work, or to walk or cycle where possible.
It is also asking all passengers to wear facemasks or coverings, as social
distancing on trains and busses is not always possible.
News of the bailout has been welcomed by ASLEF, the union
representing Tube drivers, with general secretary Mick Whelan saying: “Tube
train drivers are doing our bit to ensure that key workers can get to where they
need to be. Now we need to ensure that London Underground staff, and
passengers, are able to work and travel safely.”