March 16, 2020 / 10:43 AM / 15 days ago

London Tube passengers drop 19% due to coronavirus

People, some wearing protective face masks, walk through the City of London, as the number of coronavirus cases worldwide continues to grow, in London, Britain, March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

LONDON (Reuters) - Passenger numbers on London’s Underground network fell 19% in the week starting March 2 in response to coronavirus, with the rate of decline sharply accelerating as more companies asked staff to work from home, Transport for London (TfL) said.

The data also showed a 10% drop in London bus passengers against the same week a year earlier, TfL said on Monday, with days later in the week seeing an even bigger drop as awareness about the scale of the outbreak increased.

State-owned TfL said the financial impact of the drop in passengers was difficult to predict and would depend on the duration and severity of the spread of the virus.

But based on government scenarios, it was forecasting a reduction in passenger income of up to 500 million pounds ($615 million) from the pandemic.

The London Underground network carries 1.35 billion passengers every year, according to TfL, while about 2.1 billion bus journeys are taken in the capital.

TfL said its cash balance of over 2 billion pounds was well above the required minimum and would allow the initial impact of coronavirus to be managed.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Sarah Young

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