TfL says pandemic could cost it £500million

Transport for London says it will seek “appropriate financial support” from central government to help make up a shortfall of up to £500million caused by reduced travel for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.


It says that bus ridership, already down 2% year-on-year from October to early March, accelerated to a 10% fall by the second week of March as fewer people have been travelling and those travelling are making fewer journeys. Passenger numbers on the Underground, previously also down by 2%, are down by 19%.


TfL believes this is a result of a significant reduction in visitors to London, more people being asked to work from home and continuing softness in demand for off-peak travel.


Its prediction of a possible £500million revenue shortfall is based on government scenarios, but it says the situation is evolving and outcomes are difficult to predict. Having exercised greater cost control and implemented efficiency measures, it has reduced its deficit from £1.5billion to £200million and it aims to increase its cash reserves from £1.2billion to £1.8billion to absorb financial shocks such as may be caused by the pandemic.


“We continue to follow and communicate Public Health England advice, including that there is no specific risk on public transport,” says TfL chief finance officer Simon Kilonback. “We’ve also stepped up our cleaning regime from the already very high standards to give our customers and staff further reassurance.”

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