Business groups welcome Sadiq Khan Friday fares reduction trial

Business groups welcome Sadiq Khan Friday fares reduction trial

London business groups have welcomed Sadiq Khan’s announcement that Transport for London will suspend its higher, peak travel period Underground and rail fares on Fridays for a trial period in an attempt to further revitalise the capital’s post-pandemic economy.

Ruth Duston, chief executive of Primera, which supports 12 of central London’s business improvement districts (BIDs), welcomed the “more flexible approach” BIDs have been arguing for in recent years as a contribution to “thinking about how we can ‘re-invent Fridays’ in the era of new working practices”.

City of London policy chairman Chris Hayward, said it “could provide a huge boost to London’s hospitality and leisure sectors” and complement the corporation’s “destination city” programme, designed to attract more visitors to the Square Mile.

Muniya Barua, deputy chief executive of BusinessLDN, said, “Experimenting with Friday fares is an innovative step that could help encourage some hybrid workers back into the capital” and potentially “change habits that have become engrained since the pandemic for the many Londoners who can choose to work from home”.

City Hall says this “off-peak Fridays” initiative, which will reduce the cost of Friday morning travel by £2 for the longest journeys, is “expected to begin in March and last for three months” with the goal of helping TfL and the rail operators it has control of to evaluate its impacts on ridership and the capital’s economy.

Midweek tube use has recovered to 85 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, reaching four million journeys in a day in November for the first time since Covid, but languishes at around 73 per cent on Fridays, damaging the capital’s hospitality industries in particular at the start of weekends.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, said there is “no doubt that Fridays have suffered as a result of changes to working patterns” as commuter trade has been lost, and she praised the Mayor’s move as “exactly the type of flexible approach needed to boost journey numbers and stimulate footfall in our venues”.

Last May, think tank Centre for Cities recommended temporarily scrapping peak morning fares on Fridays along with maintaining existing public transport levels.

Khan recently announced a 12-month freeze on all TfL public transport fares from March.

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