Thursday 3 September 2020 10:56 am

Commuter numbers rise to highest level since end of lockdown

The number of people travelling to work rose to its highest level since the end of lockdown, new data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) showed today, as the government seeks to encourage workers back to the office.

According to the ONS, the proportion of working adults who travelled to their place of work last week reached 57 per cent, having steadily risen for the last two months.

Over the same period, the proportion of those exclusively working from home has gone in the opposite direction. Last week, the figure dropped again, falling to 20 per cent.

Figures from Transport for London also showed a slow but steady increase in the number of people using public transport.

Overall, 1.24m people made Tube journeys on the Friday before the Bank Holiday, nearly a third of the average 4m daily trips made prior to lockdown.

More workers are also beginning to trickle into the City of London and Canary Wharf, with nearly 18,000 people registered tapping in and out of Bank station of the same day.

The figure is about 10 times higher than at the height of the lockdowns in April, when there were just 1,800 such trips recorded a day.

On the same day at Canary Wharf station, nearly 25,000 people who entered and exited the station, once again a vast increase on April, when the figure stood at 4,500.

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Although the numbers remain significantly below pre-pandemic levels, the increase will be a cause for optimism for a government pushing to get more people back to the UK’s commercial centres after the lockdown period. 

Boris Johnson this week stepped up calls for people to return to their offices in a bid to boost spending at bricks and mortar businesses.

Firms are slowly sending people back to their offices, but the Square Mile and other business districts still remain relatively empty.

Recent analysis showed just 17 per cent of people had returned to work in the UK’s 63 largest cities — unchanged from June when the lockdown started to lift.

This morning, a group of Conservative London MPs and London Assembly members have called for the Waterloo and City Tube line to reopen in a bid to boost the number of people returning to the capital’s centre.

TfL figures show Waterloo and City is the second-most intensively used Tube service, when looking at journeys per mile of each line, after the Victoria line and is a key travel route for many City of London workers.

Conservative Cities of London and Westminster MP Nickie Aiken added: “TfL should be working with businesses to support the return to the office and I would expect them to be running a full service across all lines.

TfL said Waterloo and City Tube drivers are being used currently on the Central line.