While tube and bus ridership figures have remained steady, there has been a rise in fatal or serious road accidents. International visitor numbers declined compared to the previous year, although attractions admissions recovered over the summer. Brexit remains Londoners’ top concern, with healthcare just behind. Overall crime levels were stable and knife crime declined.
Tube and bus journeys
Despite a turbulent year for Transport for London, tube ridership figures are steady, with 105 million trips on the London Underground in the period to mid-October 2018. Bus ridership was slightly higher than a year previous, though the long-term trend is still one of decline in passenger numbers.
Transport for London’s capital improvement programme – including the Northern Line extension, the Silvertown tunnel and Cycle Superhighway 11 – is being held up by the delay of Crossrail, which is now expected to open for business in 2020, two years behind schedule. Preparations for the Camden Town, and Holborn station upgrade are also being delayed.
Whilst bus fares, and single trip fares on the underground remain frozen until 2020 – benefiting the occasional traveller – daily caps and travelcards increased by an average of 3 per cent in the beginning of January – disadvantaging regular commuters. The zone 1-2 adult daily cap now sits at £7.00 (+ 20p), with the equivalent weekly cap at £35.10 (+ £1.00).
With the Mayor’s aim of eliminating all deaths and serious injuries from London’s roads by 2041, the recent spike in fatal and serious injuries from road traffic collisions is cause for concern. Despite efforts to reduce accidents – Transport for London introduced plans for a 20mph speed limit on major central London routes last year – 1,085 people were killed or seriously injured in the second quarter of 2018. Figures show a further 7,068 casualties were slightly injured in the same period. (Please note: Figures from September 2017 onwards are not directly comparable with previous years as a result of changes in reporting.)
This month Transport for London announced the launch of a final public consultation on its proposal for a Direct Vision Standard for heavy goods vehicles (HGVs). The new plan will see the most dangerous lorries removed from London’s roads later this year, a move welcomed by Will Norman, London’s Cycling Commissioner. 1,400 cyclists were injured or killed on London’s roads in the second quarter of 2018, up 14 per cent on the previous year.
London welcomed nearly 5 million visitors in the second quarter of 2018 – an 11-percentage point fall on the same period in 2017. Figures elsewhere in the UK paint a similar picture, with an average 9 percentage point fall in England, Scotland and Wales.
Spend per visitor
Visitor spending in the second quarter of 2018 is level with the previous year, at an average £640.14 per visitor. It remains to be seen whether it will equal or exceed the level achieved in summer 2017, when it was the highest since summer 2012; the year of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Following four consecutive quarters of negative annual growth, admissions to London’s attractions improved over the summer of 2018. 17.3 million people visited the capital’s tourist attractions in Q3 2018, up 5.4 per cent on 2017 figures.
London’s free attractions saw the largest growth – up 7.7 per cent in the year to Q3 2018 to 10 million visitors – pushing up overall visitor numbers. The increase in fee charging attractions was smaller, with a 2 per cent increase over the same period to 7 million.
As the 29 March deadline fast approaches, Londoners are becoming increasingly concerned about the UK’s future relationship with the European Union.
Figures from Ipsos MORI’s December 2018 Issues Index show that 60 per cent of London respondents believe Brexit to be the biggest issue facing the country, narrowing the gap between the capital and the rest of Great Britain to just 3 percentage points.
Despite a decline in crime numbers in London (see below), concerns about crime remain a major concern in the capital, with a 3 per cent increase in the proportion of respondents who mention this as a top issue. This may be due to a spate of violent crime reports in the last weeks of 2018.
Total notifiable offences per capita showed little change on the previous year – a 0.1 per cent increase in the year to October 2018. Knife crime declined by 9.3 per cent in Q3 2018 when compared to the previous year, with 1,159 offences in the quarter to October 2018. Though numbers have fallen, knife crime remains a large challenge to the capital, with several incidents involving children serving to highlight the need for early intervention. This was reflected in the Mayor’s recent appointment of Lib Peck to lead his new violence reduction unit, which is said to adopt a public health approach in its treatment of crime as a social virus.