Tube strike good for the economy, study finds

Many people found a more efficient way to get to work

Hazel Sheffield
Monday 14 September 2015 12:23 BST
The Tube strike forced people to find alternative routes to work.
The Tube strike forced people to find alternative routes to work.

The Tube strike was actually good for the economy, according to research from the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

The Tube strike forced people to find alternative routes to work. Many found more efficient routes in and never returned to their original route, saving time and money in the long term.

The researchers analysed Oyster card data from the February 2014 Tube strike, in which only part of the Tube was closed, allowing for a direct comparison of how affected people changed their journeys and whether they went back to their original route once all lines had reopened. About one in 20 affected commuters decided to stick with their new route.

By performing a cost-benefit analysis, the researchers found that the time saved over the next four years will actually outweigh the time lost by commuters during the strike.

The researchers suggested that the strike had this affect for two reasons:

• The London Tube map does not accurately show the distance between stations

• Commuters discovered that Tube lines travel at different speeds and found a faster one

“Our findings illustrate that people might get stuck with suboptimal decisions because they don’t experiment enough,” said co-author Dr Ferdinand Rauch from Oxford’s Department of Economics. Being forced to alter routine can end up having net economic benefits – a phenomenon known as the Porter hypothesis.

The Tube strikes have prompted discussion on Monday of a new trade union bill which would require 50 per cent turnout for industrial action ballots, and 14 days’ notice instead of the current seven. Such plans have been dismissed by Frances O'Grady general secretary of the Trade Union Congress as "disgracefull and daft".

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