By Maxine Kennedy, Researcher in the City of London Research Team
As I’m sure everyone is acutely aware, there was a tube strike this week (9/01/17). With this in mind, I thought it would be relevant to have a look into the data available on the commutes of London’s workforce.
The 2011 Census captured travel to work data across the UK for people aged 16 to 74 in employment. It found that 20% of London’s workforce regularly use either the ‘Underground, metro, light rail or tram’ to get to work and back. A further 18% regularly use a train and 12% use a ‘bus, minibus or coach’. Interestingly, more Londoners walk to work (7%) than cycle (4%). 27% drive either a car or a van.
The data on London's boroughs shows us how people in different areas travel to work. Looking at the level of usage in the ‘Underground, metro, light rail or tram’ category across London shows us which areas were most likely affected by Monday’s strike. Not so surprisingly, the workforce in Inner London uses these types of transport more often than those in outer London. The proportion is highest in Westminster at 36%, although colleagues in the City of London weren’t far behind at 32%.
Other services in this category such as the DLR still ran on Monday, but as these services cover much less of London than the tube network, we can approximate that between a quarter and a third of Inner London workers were affected. The rate would probably be higher if were able to include those who primarily use another form of transport (say, a train) then a tube once they get to central London. Unfortunately, the data only shows people’s main method of transport.
Looking at the distances travelled by London’s workforce shows that almost 30% of journeys are less than 5km and almost 50% are less than 10km, so cycling isn’t completely out of the question as an alternative method of transport (for those who are moderately fit/didn’t eat too many mince pies this Christmas).
In fact, lots of people did decide to cycle on Monday, and Transport for London said that at 11.15am, 17,417 Santander cycles had been hired, and by 4pm, there had been a 149% increase in Santander cycle hires. You might be inclined to give cycling a go, particularly if you work in Hackney where 8% of your colleagues in the borough already cycle to work.
But cycling was probably out of the question for those that needed to travel more than 40km to get to work (this accounts for 8% of London’s workforce) – perhaps they joined the other 8% that usually works from home?
Whatever your journey, I hope it wasn’t too bad!