MOSCOW (Sputnik) - Transport for London (TfL), the agency responsible for the city’s transportation system, estimates that the fall in passenger income due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak could reach 500 million pounds ($616 million) as the numbers of tourists, business travellers and people commuting to work decrease, according to a press release on Monday.
"Our best forecast, based on government scenarios, is that the financial impact of the coronavirus could be up to £500m", TfL’s Chief Finance Officer Simon Kilonback said in the press release.
In the previous week, there was a 19 percent reduction in passenger travel on the London Underground and a 10 percent drop in passenger numbers on the capital’s buses when compared to the same period a year ago, TfL reported.
The transport authority cited a significant drop in international and domestic visitors to the UK capital in accounting for the reduction in passenger income. Additionally, more companies are asking employees to work from home, while TfL reported a reduction in off-peak demand, potentially due to customers refusing to travel or being more frugal.
Despite the projected losses, Kilonback stated that TfL had contingency plans in place to manage the ongoing situation. However, London’s transport authority is calling on the government to resume funding.
"We manage our finances prudently, and have reduced our deficit hugely in recent years. This means that we can manage the impacts on our passenger numbers and finances that are currently envisaged. But, given the nature of the situation, we will be looking to the Government to provide appropriate financial support," TfL’s Chief Finance Officer said.
In 2015, then-Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the government would remove an annual operating grant worth 700 million pounds annually as part of plans to make TfL self-sufficient.
Leading public health officials in the United Kingdom have predicted that the coronavirus disease outbreak will continue to cause disruption for another twelve months, according to a secret Public Health England briefing seen by The Guardian newspaper.
As of 09:00 GMT on Sunday, the UK Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed 1,372 cases of COVID-19 in the country, resulting in the deaths of 35 people; a rise of 14 compared to figures released 24 hours before.