Wednesday 7 October 2020 2:35 pm

City workers committed to the commute despite PM's working from home u-turn, TfL data shows

City workers are ignoring the government’s advice to work from home, new data from Transport for London showed today.

Since Boris Johnson’s announcement on 22 September, the number of employees commuting in to the Square Mile has stayed at the same level as in September.

There were over 203,000 “taps” in and out of City stations on 3 October, almost exactly the same number as the prior week.

Financial hub Canary Wharf also saw 29,000 taps, again the same as the week before, while Bank stayed at 19,000. 

However, across the whole of the Tube network, total journeys tailed off slightly last week, falling from 1.52m to 1.48m across the two Fridays. 

Bus journeys also slipped back, suggesting that some were paying heed to the Prime Minister’s words.

The government’s change of heart came as the number of coronavirus cases surged, raising fears of another lockdown.

Yesterday there were 14,542 new cases, up 1,948 on the day before.

Likewise, there has been a drop off in the number of people using rail services. According to Department for Transport (DfT), passenger numbers on National Rail trains were at 31 per cent of pre-pandemic levels on Friday, down from 38 per cent the week before.

Although figures for the City have not dropped in the two week’s since the u-turn was announced, overall numbers of workers in the business district remain well below January and February’s levels.

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A Google Mobility report showed that workplace footfall remained 63 per cent lower than at the beginning of the year. 

The push to get more people back into the office had appeared to be working, with numbers rising at a slow but steady rate through the summer. 

But numbers now seem to have stalled at less than a quarter of pre-coronavirus levels, as a number of prominent City firms sent their staff back to home working.

KPMG chief economist Yael Selfin warned: “A deceleration in workers’ return to their workplace will prove a blow to those businesses that rely on commuters’ footfall or provide workplace services.

“There is a risk that more businesses that are fundamentally viable could be lost in the short term while others will need to be agile and adopt to a new way of working post Covid-19.” 

However, the number of people heading to work could well be higher, with TfL urging as many people as possible to use “active” methods of getting to work, such as walking and cycling.

Last week the transport operator opened a major new cycleway between Tower Bridge Road and Rotherhithe, the first such project in southeast London.

The route is the latest in a number of projects which have sought to make the capital more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.

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