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Thursday, Jan 28, 2021

Coronavirus: Government considers a day of free public transport to boost London economy

Coronavirus: Government considers a day of free public transport to boost London economy

It is "one of a number of options" being considered to help encourage people back into central London in the coming months.

London commuters could get a free day of public transport under a plan being considered to help revive the city economy.

Under the proposals people, many of whom may not have ventured into the centre of the capital during the coronavirus lockdown, would be able to ride the Tube, train or bus for free for a day

A Transport For London (TFL) spokesperson said: "This is one of a number of options being considered to help encourage people back into central London in the coming months.


The government is considering a free public transport pass


"No final decisions have been made and any option would need to be delivered with government support, and agreed with them as part of ongoing discussions about our finances."

Under the arrangement, free rides would apply to pay as you go customers - but no further details of the possible move were given.
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The TFL spokesperson told Sky News that "more customers are now returning to public transport and we are seeing steady growth every day".

The spokesperson added: "We are delivering a near full Tube, bus and rail service and the network is cleaner than ever before".

But a recent Sky News analysis of public transport data found central London remains significantly less busy than pre-COVID-19 times as most people continue to shun public transport.

That analysis found footfall in central London is more than 60% below 2019 levels, while London's outer suburbs have seen only around a 25% drop.


It's hoped the measures would boost shopping traffic


In late March and April, train usage in the city dropped by 95% since 2019 while bus usage fell to 15% of its traffic at the start of the year.

In another sign the UK is still suffering from a slump in footfall, the latest BRC ShopperTrak footfall monitor showed foot traffic in the country was down by 34.3% in August compared to the same month last year.

To help reverse what it described as a "devastating effect on the local economies," The British Retail Consortium called for more to be done to encourage people to travel to shops.

It's understood the proposed public transport measures hope to achieve similar results to Chancellor Rishi Sunak's "Eat Out to Help Out" scheme, in which many UK food venues offered a government-subsidised 50% discount of up to £10 on meals from Monday to Wednesday.

Mr Sunak said more than 100 million discounted meals were claimed in August and that the measure helped protect 1.8 million hospitality jobs.


The scheme was so successful that many restaurants - including Pizza Hut, Bill's, and Pizza Pilgrims - have decided to continue offering 50% off most items without government support.

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