'Let's do Fridays!': Mayor Sadiq Khan urges Londoners to take advantage of off-peak Tube and train fare deal

All Tube and train fares within Greater London were on Friday being charged at off-peak rates as a three-month trial got underway in a bid to attract workers back to the office on Fridays.

Mayor Sadiq Khan and his transport aides will be closely monitoring the take-up of his £24m initiative, which aims to boost Friday passenger numbers – but not cause commuters to simply switch their days in the workplace.

Latest figures, for the end of February and start of March, show that Tube travel is at 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on Thursdays but 78 per cent on Fridays.

On Friday March 1, there were 3,384,000 Tube journeys – 954,000 fewer than the 4,338,000 on the last Friday in February 2020, according to Transport for London data.

The scrapping of peak-hours fares on Fridays until May 31 for passengers using Contactless or Oyster cards will mean a £2 saving on a journey from zone 6 to zone 1, which will be reduced to £3.60.

Some national rail fares outside the Greater London boundary will also be cut – the Thameslink fare from St Albans to Blackfriars will be reduced by £3.40 to £9.50.

Peak fares normally apply between 6.30am – 9.30am and 4pm – 7pm. The daily “cap” on multiple pay-as-you-go journeys will be reduced on Fridays to the off-peak rate.

Mr Khan said other cities across the world were watching the London experiment.

He encouraged Londoners to take advantage of the cheaper fares – and a number of cut-price deals in restaurants, museums, theatres and other visitor attractions – by saying: “Let’s do Fridays.”

Mr Khan said: “Off-peak Fridays are here. I’m delighted that this ground-breaking trial is now up and running and that there will also be special hospitality, business and entertainment deals taking place on Fridays.

“It’s clear that many people are still not coming into the office on Fridays compared to before the pandemic, which is having a major knock-on effect on our shops, restaurants, pubs and cultural venues.”

The trial will also benefit 1.2m older Londoners who have a 60+ Oyster or Freedom Pass as they will be able to travel during the morning peak without paying. Normally they cannot be used before 9am.

Alex Williams, chief customer and strategy officer at TfL said: “It will help us better understand how targeted initiatives like this could encourage more people back onto public transport and into the office on a day that is currently quieter than other midweek days.”

But Lib Dem mayoral candidate Rob Blackie said: “While lower fares are welcome, this scheme only runs until the end of May and is plainly a pre-election gimmick – just like his phoney fare freeze, which benefits tourists more than Londoners.

“As mayor, I would give the money spent on these schemes to policing instead. This would fund the improvements identified in Baroness Casey's scathing report of the Met London’s top priority.

“Transport for London needs long-term sustainability not short-term gimmicks.”

There had been fears the initiative would be scuppered due to the difficulty of calculating how much rail firms might be left out of pocket.

Jacqueline Starr, chief executive at Rail Delivery Group, which represents the train firms, said: “We’re pleased that train companies and Transport for London worked together so we can offer this trial to customers in London who will be able to travel at off-peak prices on Fridays by using pay as you go on Oyster or Contactless.”

Full details of the off-peak Friday special offers are available at: https://www.visitlondon.com/fridays