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  • Writer's pictureKeith Prince AM

A fifth of Londoners won't return to public transport

A new report has called for Transport for London to introduce a flexible ticketing system after finding that more than a fifth of Londoners who are avoiding public transport may do so permanently.

The report, ‘Derailed: Getting London’s Transport Back on Track’, comes off the back of a YouGov poll commissioned by the GLA Conservatives. YouGov surveyed over 1000 Londoners about which forms of transport they were using less or more and whether they thought this would be a temporary or permanent change. 

The poll data found that of the nearly 80% of Londoners who are using public transport less or have stopped entirely, more than 20% believe this change will be permanent after the pandemic ends. 

The report’s author, Assembly Member Keith Prince, warned that Transport for London is facing an existential crisis and must prepare for a lasting drop in commuters. Instead of trying to get London moving in the same way as before coronavirus, Mr Prince has called for the Mayor and TfL to create a carnet Travelcard to enable Londoners to get back to the office in a flexible way.

A carnet Travelcard would allow Londoners to buy a number days of travel to be used over a long period, providing a new flexible way to commute across London. Mr Prince hopes this will encourage more Londoners to return to the office on a flexible basis.

Keith Prince AM, GLA Conservative Transport Spokesman, commented: “To save London’s economy we must get our city moving again, but it is foolish to think Londoners will travel in exactly the same way as before coronavirus. That’s why the Mayor and Transport for London should create a carnet Travelcard, enabling Londoners to get back to work in a flexible way. “Unless Transport for London adapts to the so-called ‘new normal’ it will become hooked on Government bailouts. The Mayor and TfL must get our city moving again by embracing flexible commuting, which many Londoners look set to continue long after the pandemic.  “A carnet Travelcard should offer Londoners flexibility and better value for money compared to TfL’s existing ticketing system. By doing so, TfL can encourage Londoners back onto public transport, boost its fares revenue and better serve Londoners’ transport needs.”

The report also calls for the Mayor and TfL to make savings and find new ways of raising money which do not penalise road users. Mr Prince recommends the Mayor and TfL:

  • Launch a zero-based budgeting review of all TfL spending

  • Re-calculate the business cases for all ongoing and potential projects to reflect new working patterns in London.

  • Rule out the introduction of road user charging in London.

  • Facilitate the expansion of e-bikes, e-scooters, dock-less bikes and car clubs.

Mr Prince added: “To stand on its own feet again, TfL must adapt to London’s new transport demands. That means TfL needs to look again at the business cases for their infrastructure projects, review every penny they are spending, and help expand different forms of transport such as e-scooters and car clubs.  

“Sadiq Khan needs to realise that the TfL’s money woes can’t be fixed by penalising motorists. That’s why I am calling on the Mayor to rule out road pricing in London and focus on making savings at TfL. Unless Khan changes course, he will continue to bankrupt TfL, jeopardising London’s world-class transport system.”


Are you using the following forms of public transport more or less now than you did before the coronavirus pandemic?

Train (including London Overground)

Using this more than before                                    2%

Using this the same amount as before                   14%

Using this less than before                                        24%

I’ve stopped using this completely                         52%

Don’t know                                                                 8%


Using this more than before                                     1%

Using this the same amount as before                   16%

Using this less than before                                       30%

I’ve stopped using this completely                           46%

Don’t know                                                                 6%

London Underground (including DLR and trams)

Using this more than before                                   1%

Using this the same amount as before                 13%

Using this less than before                                      24%

I’ve stopped using this completely                         55%

Don’t know                                                               7%

This reveals that 76%, 76%, and 79% of Londoners are using trains, buses, and the Underground less than before or have stopped completely.

And thinking about the future, when the coronavirus is over. Do you expect this to be a temporary or permanent change? Respondents only saw the following options if they said they’d change the amount they were using that mode of transport.

Train (including London Overground)

A temporary change                                               62%

A permanent change                                                20%

Not sure                                                                      19%


A temporary change                                                  61%

A permanent change                                                21%

Not sure                                                                    18%

London Underground (including DLR and trams)

A temporary change                                                   58%

A permanent change                                                  22%

Not sure                                                                      20%

This reveals that 20%, 21%, and 22% of Londoners who are using trains, buses and the Underground less than before or have stopped completely expect this change to be permanent.


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