London rush hour traffic back to pre-pandemic levels as thousands return to work

Capital’s Tubes and buses also see busiest morning rush hour since March 2020

Chiara Giordano
Monday 06 September 2021 13:42 BST
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Rush-hour traffic in London has returned to pre-pandemic levels as tens of thousands of workers head back to the office
Rush-hour traffic in London has returned to pre-pandemic levels as tens of thousands of workers head back to the office (Steve Parsons/PA)

Rush-hour traffic in London has returned to pre-pandemic levels as tens of thousands of workers head back to the office, figures suggest.

Data from traffic information firm TomTom showed congestion was at 61 per cent at 8am on Monday, close to the 63 per cent recorded in 2019.

Other major cities close to the 2019 average were Birmingham and Liverpool, however the likes of Newcastle, Manchester and Leeds remained below.

Transport for London (TfL) data showed more commuters also packed on to Tube trains and buses on Monday in the busiest morning rush hour since March 2020, when the first national Covid lockdown began.

Figures revealed a 17 per cent rise in passengers on the Tube network up to 10am, compared with last Tuesday, and 39 per cent more on buses.

Between 7am and 8am there were 277,000 “taps” on the Tube, an increase of 24 per cent on last week, and 297,000 taps on buses, up 56 per cent, according to TfL.

The busiest period was between 8am and 9am when there were 332,000 taps on the Tube, up 22 per cent, and 321,000 on buses, 71 per cent higher than last Tuesday.

Tuesday was used as the comparison day since last Monday was a bank holiday.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has previously urged office workers to support the capital’s pubs, bars and restaurants on their return to work.

The mayor has invested £7m in the Let’s Do London Lates campaign, which aims to help attract Londoners and visitors from across the UK back to central London.

However, while many have headed back to their desks this week, the Bank of England has postponed plans for staff to return.

In July, the Bank said all staff would be asked to go back to work for at least one day a week from September.

But governor Andrew Bailey has now U-turned on the plan, instead telling workers they will not be compelled to return.

The move comes despite calls from chancellor Rishi Sunak for businesses to “ramp up” efforts to get staff back to the office this summer.

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