Does it feel like your London commute is getting busier and busier? It’s not all in your head. London’s Underground is getting busier and busier. Passenger numbers have increased by 29% in the four years between 2010 and 2014 at Oxford Circus alone. Total number of passengers visiting tourist attractions is now close to 100 million.
It isn’t just at London’s doorway to Soho and the most popular shopping district in the capital. The number of people using the tube has rocketed at 36 of the capital’s underground train station. In fact, London Datastore says the numbers are up by a quarter in just the past 5 years.
Paddington is up 10% at 49.2m, King’s Cross is up 21% to 91.9m, Liverpool Street is up 14% to 73.6m, Waterloo is up 10% to 91.4m and Victoria is up 7% to 86.7m. The congestion at the capital’s busiest commuter stations probably isn’t that surprising. On average the rise is just under a fifth showing the massive growth in both the capital’s working population and those looking to get into work via the Underground.
It isn’t just the tube that’s recording huge increases. Over at Heathrow passenger numbers have increased by 72% since 2010 while Stratford has increased by 49%.
What’s the reason? Well we know the population of the capital has risen to nearly 10m and the majority of this is workers so it makes sense that you’d see more of these people on the road during rush hour. Fewer people are driving around the capital; public transport is much cheaper than running a car what with the congestion charge and lack of parking. The problem with the tube is that it’s just so convenient! You don’t get traffic jams, honking horns and London’s narrowed roads just won’t allow for the levels of traffic you’d have if everyone drove.
It suggests that investment in the rail infrastructure in the capital is coming at the exact right time! Crossrail will reduce capacity at many stations and will relieve pressure, especially at peak times. Mayor of London Boris Johnson has proposed several extensions to the existing tube station including one to Camberwell, Lewisham and Bromley.
Yet the huge demands being placed on the tube system show that traffic and transport infrastructure in the capital badly needs more investment. The problem with creating more capacity is that it tends to get filled and then another solution is needed, rapidly. London’s population isn’t going to reduce anytime soon so the Underground needs to grow if it’s going to cope, from longer trains to more frequent services to relieve pressure on travellers and commuters.