Transport for London has insisted that it remains in a sound financial position, with savings making up for falling passenger revenue, despite a forecast deficit of nearly £1bn next year.
The latest data from TfL shows that passenger journeys across its tube, bus, rail and other services were down 1% at 2,284 milllion in the first three quarters of 2017/18, compared to the same period of 2016/18.
Fewer people are using the Tube
Passenger volumes on the London Underground were 20 million (2%) lower during this period, although TfL said the underlying trend, after adjusting for the later Easter, is 1% lower than the same period last year. Passenger journeys on TfL's buses were also down 1%, while demand across its rail services was broadly stable.
According to TfL’s latest business plan it is forecast to run a deficit of £784m during the current financial year, rising to £968m during 2018/19.
However, the plan forecasts surpluses in 2021/22 (£78m) and 2022/23 (£153m).
A spokesman for TfL pointed out that it had reduced its year-on-year operating costs by £153m in the last financial year and said ongoing reductions will more than make up for below budget passenger revenue.
He said: ‘London is leading the way in showing how you can keep fares affordable, while still investing record amounts in creating world-class infrastructure. Although overall ridership is currently slightly lower than originally budgeted, ridership on the bus, Tube and rail services is regularly outperforming that elsewhere across the country – helped by the fares freeze, the Hopper fare and improved reliability.
‘Through our recently published budgeted and balanced Business Plan, we are continuing to invest record amounts in the transport network to deliver a wide range of improvements and make London a fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous city for everyone. Our extensive efficiency programme has already helped reduce operating costs this year by £194m and is ahead of budget and more than offsets any reduction in revenue.
‘The introduction of the Elizabeth line [Crossrail] later this year will further improve ridership across the Capital and transform journeys for millions of people.’