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TfL’s Lost Property Office
Photograph: Rob Greig

TfL made £200,000 last year from passengers’ lost cash

By
James Manning
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Ever lost a tenner on the tube? It may well have ended up in Transport for London’s cavernous Lost Property Office in Baker Street. Any money found on TfL services gets taken here, along with bags, phones, umbrellas and anything else left in a tube carriage, bus or black cab. If it’s not claimed within 12 months (three for cabs), it goes towards the office’s running costs. And all those tenners add up: in 2016/17, the office’s revenue from unclaimed cash was £203,583.

That’s just one of the things we’ve learned from the LPO’s latest geektastic data release. Here are a few more.

  • The most frequently lost items are books, documents and cards. TfL found 92,631 last year, more than a quarter of all lost items. They also dealt with 10,064 umbrellas, 34,322 phones and 50,425 bits of clothing.
  • Most items get lost on buses: 55 percent of the total in 2016/17, compared to 42 percent on the tube, Overground and DLR combined. The tube percentage was up slightly on last year, though – maybe because we have a night tube now, and that means more drunk people forgetting their keys, wallets, phones and basic human dignity.
  • As well as that unclaimed cash revenue, the LPO raised £256,754 from selling unclaimed property at auction. Anything that isn’t worth auctioning gets given to charity.
  • All in all, a whopping 286,994 items were handled by the Lost Property Office last year. And less than a quarter of all lost property was reclaimed – so if you’ve left a priceless painting in the back of a cab, there’s a decent chance TfL has it stashed somewhere.

The Lost Property Office is at 200 Baker Street – find out more at tfl.gov.uk/lostproperty. And if you are looking to reclaim something you left on a bus after one too many Jägerbombs, it helps if you can describe unique features like the contents of wallets and marks or engravings on jewellery and watches. They have a lot of black bags down there.

In other transport news, you’ll soon be able to use your phone on the tube (for real).

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