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Back in London office, but bankers drag their heels

(Bloomberg) – London’s subway system has maintained a steady rise in ridership, showing progress in the drive to bring employees back to the office – although the financial center is lagging behind.

Transport for London said in an email that as of 10am on Monday, tube entry and exit were up 6% from a week earlier. Utilization levels were 45% above normal, although this figure reached only 31% in and around the City of London financial district and Canary Wharf.

The latest figures show a gradual rebound in ridership as the UK scraps work-from-home rules and companies encourage workers to return to the office. TfL said that during the past week, tube travel was at about half of pre-pandemic levels, while bus ridership was at 70%.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government has cut restrictions and mask mandates as the UK decimated the virus after nearly two years of start-stop measures and restrictions considered endemic. Companies including JPMorgan Chase & Co, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and Citigroup Inc are encouraging employees to return to their desks.

Due to construction, the busy Northern Line does not stop at Banks station through May. This could affect tube traffic in the City of London, as passengers use alternatives such as cabs, buses or Uber.

Before the introduction of the latest remote working rules in December, Transport for London said it was regularly seeing over 60% of normal demand on weekdays, but over 80% on weekends.

Last week the number of workers at their desks in the city was down 40% from pre-pandemic levels, according to data compiled by Google, which tracks the location of its users. It was down 52% from the baseline a week ago.

People are no longer being asked to work from home, and rules requiring the wearing of masks in shops and on public transport will be removed from January. 27 — Although covering will still be required on the TfL network. Mandatory Covid passes for businesses will also expire this week.

The government has also relaxed travel rules under the campaign.

—With assistance from Neil Callanon.

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

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