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Tube fares could get ‘dynamic pricing’ – here’s what that actually means for travelling around London

London Underground fares could change to reflect post-pandemic commuter patterns

Written by
Marina Rabin

Currently saving a bit of tube fare pocket money by working from home a couple of days a week? Well, you might not be saving for much longer. TfL is considering introducing a ‘dynamic pricing’ fare system which could charge more based on post-pandemic hybrid working patterns. 

Mayor Sadiq Khan confirmed in a London Assembly budget committee meeting that a new pricing system is being discussed by TfL. It could see fares rise and fall with passenger numbers and involve surge pricing on select days of the week. 

Hybrid working has contributed to reduced commuter numbers on certain days (namely Mondays and Fridays, the most popular WFH home days), which in turn has reduced TfL’s ticket revenue. To make up for that lost revenue, TfL is considering raising ticket prices on midweek days that are more popular for working from the office. 

This could come as part of the annual TfL fare increase, which last year saw tube fares rise by 5.9 percent (meaning most adult pay-as-you-go fares rose by between 10p and 30p).

So-called ‘dynamic pricing’ might add another level of sophistication to London’s fare tiers. Tube passengers already pay higher rates during peak travel times (6:30am to 9:30am and 4pm to 7pm on weekdays), while tube travel costs more in central zones.

The idea behind ‘dynamic pricing’ isn’t just to increase TfL revenue: it’s also intended to entice passengers back onto the tube on days that are currently less popular for commuters. The tube still has a while to go before it returns to its pre-pandemic heights of ridership, with passenger levels currently sitting at about 90 percent of what they were at the start of 2020. 

Dreading a potential tube fare hike? Well, even if ‘dynamic pricing’ is approved, there’s a chance it won’t actually come into effect this year. Khan has said there may be ‘insufficient time’ for this plan to be implemented in line with the annual fares rise, which will take place on March 3 and see National Rail ticket prices rise by 4.9 percent. 

Khan is expected to say in the next week whether tube and bus fares will also rise in line with these rail price hikes – so watch this space for updates. 

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