Tube journeys plunge 38% in a week amid Omicron fears and WFH order

·2-min read

The number of Tube journeys has plunged 38 per cent in a week, according to the latest data from Transport for London (TfL), amid the reintroduction of work from home guidance and scientists’ pleas to cut down on socialising ahead of Christmas.

TfL said bus journeys had also fallen 40 per cent in the seven days up to 10am on Tuesday, with low demand reported across the network.

It comes just two weeks after ministers introduced Plan B measures to stem the spread of the Omicron variant. Under the guidelines, Britons are advised to work from home and must show proof of vaccination upon entry to large indoor venues and outdoor events.

The capital has also seen a surge in Covid cases driven by the Omicron variant, with the infection rate in multiple boroughs of the capital reaching record levels this week. Hundreds of thousands of Britons are likely to be in self-isolation on Christmas Day.

TfL said the network had seen around 630,000 entries and exits on the Tube this past week – just 55 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

There were around 700,000 boarding taps on buses, which amounted to 76 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

However, TfL noted that the baseline for pre-pandemic levels was measured just before Christmas on December 23, 2019 - a period when the network traditionally sees very low demand.

They said the school holidays were also likely to have played a part in last week’s plunge in trips.

The figures lay bare the extent to which Londoners have heeded Professor Chris Whitty’s call to cut down on socialising amid the spread of the highly transmissible Omicron variant.

London was hit with almost 152,000 confirmed Covid cases in the week to December 20, more than three times as many as the 42,455 in the first week of this month.

The seven-day infection rate for Londoners aged 25 to 29 also soared by 501 per cent in the week to December 14.

The sharp rise in infections has seen footfall in the city centre plunge, with restaurants reporting mass cancellations and pubs forced to close amid staff shortages.

Last week, the Standard reported how an emergency Government bailout to keep Tube and bus services running would be continued until February.

However, Mayor Sadiq Khan said “nothing had changed” in terms of Tfl’s long-term funding issues amid fears of major cuts to services.

He warned that a so-called “managed decline” could see around 100 bus routes axed and possibly the closure of an entire tube line.

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