Coronavirus: Transport for London expects £500m loss of passenger income

Transport for London says the coronavirus outbreak could result in a £500m loss of passenger income, adding that it will ask the government for financial support.

The firm said it had seen a reduction in demand and passenger revenue since October last year due to economic uncertainty.

But this worsened during February due to bad weather and in March when the initial impact of coronavirus in the UK became clear.

TfL said since 2 March, it had seen “further reductions in ridership, coinciding with growing public awareness of the COVID-19 virus, starting with modest reductions in ridership of around 2% compared to the same days the previous year.

“Since then, a growing number of firms and individuals have changed their travel behaviour, with greater numbers of people working from home.

“This has led to an acceleration in the reduction in passenger numbers in the last week to around 19 per cent on the Tube and 10% on buses compared to the same week the previous year.

“This is made up roughly equally of fewer people travelling and those travelling making fewer journeys.”

Simon Kilonback, TfL’s chief finance officer, said: “Our best forecast, based on government scenarios, is that the financial impact of the coronavirus could be up to £500m.

“We manage our finances prudently, and have reduced our deficit hugely in recent years. This means that we can manage the impacts on our passenger numbers and finances that are currently envisaged. But, given the nature of the situation, we will be looking to the government to provide appropriate financial support.

He added: “We continue to follow and communicate Public Health England advice, including that there is no specific risk on public transport.

“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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