Will TfL's statistics exorcise the 'ghost town'?

Shoppers on Oxford Street, in central London Transport for London's latest figures suggest footfall in the West End is up

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Has the London 'ghost town' disappeared?

Certainly Transport for London's (TfL) latest figures suggest footfall in the West End is up.

Compared to a year ago, TfL's figures show there was a 27% increase in passengers using stations in the West End on Saturday night.

There will be surprise at that from some businesses, particularly those that don't cater to the particular peccadilloes of Olympic tourists.

But you can almost feel the relief from TfL.

Message change

It was under considerable pressure (and still is from some - particularly the black cab trade) after accusations it had over-cooked the transport warning messages.

In the middle of last week it changed the message to one promoting central London.

TfL says: "The sorts of patterns we are seeing are all consistent with previous Games.

"Sydney, Athens and Vancouver all experienced similar patterns."

The figures show that on 3 August, London Underground carried an all-time record of 4.4m people, compared with 3.7m on an average day in the same week last year.

Olympics coverage online

Olympics images

I used the Tube on Friday. It was busy - but not that busy.

The difference at the moment seems to be the rush hour has spread out over the day and commuters have staggered their journeys.

Bosses at TfL told me they do not think the Tube could have coped on Friday if they had all those passengers as well as commuters.

Economic debate

The transport plan - to ask (or scare?) Londoners to change their habits - to make room for spectators seems to have worked, in that we have not had too many big transport problems compounded by large crowds.

The debate over whether the plan was the correct one is another matter.

The fact is the system worked pretty well. Even the independent passenger watchdog London TravelWatch agrees with that.

The economic debate is also very interesting if, in my view, only partly linked to transport.

A number of politicians have claimed the Olympics would bring an economic benefit to London - contrary to previous evidence that shows most cities suffer a net loss in tourism short-term when they hold the Games.

While I'm sure local transport is part of that debate - putting the blame solely onto it for scaring people away is simplistic.

Other factors come into play including the recession, high room costs at some hotels, high flight prices and the preferences of Olympic tourists.

Also don't forget the 'main' attraction is a brand new Olympic Park miles away from the centre of London.

If you come to London to watch the Olympics that's where you'll be heading.

Let me know your thoughts…

Tom Edwards, Transport correspondent, London Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    I drove to Weymouth on Saturday, a beautiful sunny day. All the way along the A354 towards Weymouth, electronic signs told us 'All car parks full, do a U-Turn and go back to Park & Ride' - we systematically ignored at least 5 of these signs, and sure enough in Weymouth there were plenty of car parking spaces and not a single queue at any point! All lies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Been lovely and quiet. Only real sticking points have been the usual idiots thinking that a one way system does not apply to them, and some Train Operating Companies serving venue stations having absolutely no crowd management arrangements, and seemingly no qualified staff and then needing the police/army/G4S to come and sort out the ensuing mess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    @roger it was an "all-time record compared to an average weekday" so not compared to the riots last year or a weekend affected by closures so how you can say its low? I'm in east London and it's like rush hour that lasts all day and night but everyone is cheerful.

    @monozilla when I went to Greenwich for the dressage all the restaurants were busy afterwards, no one was being cattle herded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    All the tube journeys my office colleagues and I have taken into central London have been fine. Just few delays at certain mainline rail stations. The empty trains are due to people going away in droves for school hols but TfL have definitely overstated the Olympic factor. Anti-LOCOG signs in Greenwich are cos visitors were herded past businesses like cattle so no chance to stop and spend!

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    I wonder with which week last year they are comparing it, maybe the week when the riots were on and people were advised to stay home or maybe the week in which weekend closures closed half the network, considering each of the 300k people with tickets need to make a return journey which means 600k extra journeys I would still say ridership is low.Just check the non olympic lines to see ghost trains


Comments 5 of 6



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