Coronavirus: Transport for London furloughs 7,000 workers

Photo: PA

Transport for London (TfL) is to furlough 7,000 staff whose work has been reduced or paused amid “massive financial challenges” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

TfL’s income has been badly affected during the pandemic, and about 7,000 employees will be put on the government’s furlough scheme.

London’s transport commissioner Mike Brown said fares, which are TfL’s main revenue, had plunged by 90%.

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London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown, MVO said: “The transport network is crucial in the fight to tackle coronavirus and it will play a similarly vital role in supporting the country’s economy as it recovers from the pandemic.

“We have significantly cut our costs over recent years but nevertheless the success of encouraging the vast majority of people to stay at home has seen our main revenue, fares, reduce by 90 per cent. We are now taking steps to use the Government’s Job Retention Scheme to further reduce our costs where work has been paused because of the virus, while at the same time supporting our staff financially.

“Our work with the Government about the support that we need are ongoing and are constructive. We hope for an urgent agreement so that we can continue to provide the city with the vital transport it needs now and going forward.”

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The Mayor of London warned transport “will not immediately return to normal” when lockdown measures are relaxed.

Staff will initially be furloughed for three weeks from Monday and TfL said it “will pay the remainder of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions, to ensure people are supported”.

Currently a limited service across the capital is in place to allow “essential travel” for key workers.

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Government Job Retention Scheme

The Government’s Job Retention Scheme means TfL can access funding for 80% of the salary of furloughed staff up to a maximum of £2,500 per month. 7,000 staff will be placed on furlough, for an initial period of three weeks.

This represents around 25% of the workforce employed. TfL will pay the remainder of salaries of all furloughed employees and continue to pay pension contributions, to ensure that people are supported.

Since London entered lockdown on 23 March, Tube journeys have fallen by 95% and bus journeys by 85%.

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Sadiq Khan said he wanted “to be honest and upfront” about the impact on public transport in the capital and its future.

“There will be no quick return to business as usual,” he said.

“Covid-19 has caused massive financial challenges for TfL and every transport provider across the UK.

“As the only transport authority of any major city in western Europe which doesn’t receive a grant for day-to-day operations, the challenge for TfL is very acute.”

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Sam Hewitt