London Underground: We’re over halfway back to normal as Tube passenger numbers rise

·2-min read
 (PA)
(PA)

The number of passengers using the Underground is regularly passing 50 per cent of “normal” levels on weekdays for the first time since the start of the pandemic, new figures have revealed.

Transport for London said it had seen a steady increase in use on the network over the summer and is preparing for further rises in September when school term starts and more work commuting is expected.

The figures are a boost for businesses which have been suffering from a lack of commuters in central London.

However, it is also feared that the autumn return to classrooms and offices will place more pressure on already stretched food supply chains as canteens open up again.

Stations in the City and Docklands are starting to see passenger numbers climb steadily from the very low levels seen over the past 18 months as office workers go back to their desks.

Thursday, August 12 was the busiest day at Bank station since the pandemic began with more than 50,000 entry and exit “taps”. While this is still only around 30 per cent of normal, as recently as April it was only running at 15 per cent. Canary Wharf’s peak came on August 19 when more than 45,000 people passed through the station.

There are also encouraging signs of recovery in the West End with Oxford Circus now regularly seeing more than 100,000 entry and exits during weekdays and on Saturdays, around 50 per cent of the numbers using the station before the pandemic.

Daily ridership from Heathrow Airport has continued to grow as more countries open up to foreign travel.

Currently Heathrow’s stations are seeing passenger levels at around a third of what they used to be before the pandemic — up from around 20 per cent in mid-July.

The Underground seems to be at its busiest during major sporting events with 67 per cent of normal numbers using the network on Sunday, July 11, the day of both the men’s singles final at Wimbledon and the Euro 2020 final at Wembley.

The numbers suggest that confidence about using London’s public transport networks is growing. Passengers are still officially required to wear masks on buses and Tubes.

Vernon Everitt, TfL’s managing director for customers, communication and technology said: “We’re welcoming customers back to a transport network that is cleaner than ever, with an enhanced cleaning regime, hospital-grade cleaning products, widely available hand sanitiser and UV light fittings on escalator handrails to kill viruses.

“We remain focused on providing safe, clean and convenient services for everyone.”

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