It’s been reported that TfL is considering a new scheme to offer Londoners free trips on buses, tubes and trains to entice reluctant commuters back on to the network and into central London.
In a story in today’s Evening Standard, it was revealed that the fairly revolutionary measure of free journeys for all was now on the cards owing to the reluctance of people to start using public transport again amid fears that it is still not safe to do so. Not only does that impact TfL’s fares revenues, already massively reduced after months of lockdown, it has a knock-on effect for the culture and leisure industries, as people continue to avoid travelling into the centre of town to go out.
The proposed scheme, speculatively known as First Ride Free, would see people who had not travelled into London since lockdown was introduced being offered complimentary travel to incentivise them to put some clothes on, get out of the house and start buying pints and frocks again. It sounds broadly comparable to the very well received Eat Out to Help Out scheme, except you get a ride on the Hammersmith & City line, not a plate of linguini.
A TfL spokesperson is reported as saying: ‘This is one of a number of options that are being considered to help encourage people back into central London in the coming months. 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. More customers are now returning to public transport and we are seeing steady growth every day. We are delivering a near full tube, bus and rail service and the network is cleaner than ever before.’
So if you’re one of those people who’s been going, ‘I don’t mind going back to the office. It’s just the commute I don’t feel comfortable about’, while wandering round your local Tesco wrapped in a duvet, now there’s slightly less excuse. Financially, anyway.
There’s also talk of a new voucher scheme to help the capital’s beleaguered theatres.
Still not convinced? Here are some lovely green walking routes between London’s parks.