Strikes are failing to deter London workers from heading back into the office, with the capital one of only three UK cities to see growth in commuter numbers over the last quarter.
As the summer months kicked in, the number of Londoners heading into the office fell significantly across the board, data from Virgin Media’s Business Mover Index shows.
With only a quarter of workers travelling in more than they were three months ago – down from 40 per cent in the last period.
Rail disruption, travel costs and record summer temperatures in June, prompted a significant “rebalancing towards working from home across the UK, but with London an exception to the rule,” the index found.
The capital joined Newcastle and Edinburgh as one of only three cities to see a rise in commuter numbers, with its 2.8 per cent growth just behind the Scottish city’s 4.6 per cent.
Wednesday – the most popular day to head in – saw an average of 83 per cent of Londoners heading in, marking a 10 per cent increase since the first three months of the year.
Jo Bertram, managing director of Virgin Media O2 Business, told City A.M. “strikes and heatwaves haven’t stopped Londoners from steadily returning to the office,” with the latest data showing London as “one of the few UK cities to see commuter growth.”
“Commuters have continued to favour midweek trips, as Wednesday maintained its position as the most popular office day. Outside of work, despite cost-of-living considerations, Londoners have increased their use of public transport with buses and the tube providing an affordable way to get around the city.”
London heading into period of strike chaos
The findings come amid two weeks of fresh disruption, with the RMT and ASLEF unions launching strikes and an overtime ban on both tube and rail, in an ongoing dispute over pay, jobs and pensions.
Workers at 14 train companies began their walkouts yesterday, which will see wide a variation in service across the country, with trains due to start later and finish much earlier than usual.
According to Virgin Media’s research, of the 29 per cent of Londoners who used public transport less over the past three months, 42 per cent cited “reliability concerns and the impact of strikes as the reason behind their decision.”
However despite this, three in ten Londoners (33 per cent) have increased their use of public transport for non-work travel in the past three months – with cost considerations and environmental considerations two key reasons given for this uptick.
The London Underground walk-outs are set to dent the tube network’s recovery from the pandemic, which saw passenger numbers plummet during lockdown and a slower-than expected rebound caused by a shift towards hybrid working.