TfL fares income 'to fall by £89m' as number of Tube passengers drops

Ross Lydall
There have been 44 milion fewer trips on the Underground than expected

The number of passengers using the Tube has continued to fall behind predictions, Transport for London admitted today.

There have been 44 milion fewer trips on the Underground than expected - reducing TfL’s expected fares income by £89 million.

However the overall finances of the Mayor’s transport organisation are currently better than expected due to a radical cost-cutting programme - including more than 500 job losses - and the scrapping of all “non-essential” road repairs.

Upgrades of the Northern and Jubilee lines have also been “paused”.

The figures emerged today as TfL set out its 2018/19 budget. This predicts that Tube passenger numbers will remain “flat”, proposes a further £200 million in savings and predicts that TfL will achieve its first-ever overall profit by 2022.

Passenger numbers on the Tube are currently four per cent lower than expected. This is attributed to the weak economy and squeeze on household spending, as well as the increased trend for people to work and socialise at home.

The Tube is expected to lose passengers to Crossrail, which is due to open in December, and to upgraded Thameslink services.

TfL has been forced into a major rethink of its operations by the loss of its Government subsidy, which was worth up to £700 million. Sadiq Khan’s four-year fare freeze caused further problems in terms of lost income.

Deputy mayor Val Shawcross said: “Through our major programme of TfL efficiencies, I’m proud that despite the removal of our Government grant, we’re both freezing TfL fares and building a world-class transport network that will improve quality of life for Londoners all across our city.”

Finance papers being presented to next week’s TfL board reveal that while Tube and advertisng income are down, bus fares are up £21 million, due to increased bus speeds and more reliable Oyster ticket readers.

However rail income is £21 million below budget, largely due to the lengthy closure of the London Overground Barking to Gospel Oak line. Congestion charge fines are £38 million below budget because of a six per cent decline in traffic.

TfL is “reviweing” 6,000 non-front line roles in London Underground, surface transprort - which runs the bus network - and professional services to cut costs. The final number of job losses is expected to be “much less” than 6,000.