Bus ridership in the capital continues to fall according to Transport for London’s latest figures.
A paper to be presented to the agency’s board next week reveals that declining journey numbers in the first half of the year “worsened” in the third quarter with 31 million fewer journeys made compared to the previous year.
As well as being lower than in the 2018/19 reporting year’s third quarter, the journey numbers also fall short on TfL’s target for the current year’s Q3 by 11m.
The report states: “Underlying bus journeys declined in the first half of the year. However, in Q3 this trend worsened, underlying demand decline compared to last year now stands at -1.6 per cent, after being -1.2 per cent at the end of Q2.”
The fall has helped push up the cost of providing each journey by 4 pence per trip, outstripping the additional 1p per journey the agency receives in fares income due to the annual rise in the cost of Travelcards.
The TfL report comes just weeks after the Department for Transport’s latest bus ridership statistics confirmed that London bus journeys in 2018/19 were themselves 1.2% lower than in the year before, the fifth consecutive annual fall.
While there’s also been a sustained fall in journey numbers elsewhere in England, last year the drop off was just 0.1% compared to London’s 1.2% decline.
The fall started during Boris Johnson’s mayoralty and has continued under Sadiq Khan, despite TfL’s heavy promotion of both bus services and Mr Khan’s flagship hopper fare which offers unlimited travel for just £1.50 within one hour of starting a journey.
The agency has also been investing in new buses, including all electric models which offer features such as USB-chargers for mobiles, in part to increase passenger satisfaction.
However its performance figures for the current reporting year imply the capital is heading for a sixth consecutive annual decline.