Londoners may be eligible for free bus, train, and tube tickets, under a scheme aiming to get people back to shopping centres and offices.
It wasn’t all that long ago that we were being urged to stay at home and avoid the outside at all costs. Working from home, virtual meetings. and living exclusively in pyjamas became the new normal. Covid-19 is finally becoming less of a threat, but it seems as though many workers are just as reluctant to head back to the office.
According to Transport for London, anxiety regarding the use of public transport is one of the main factors preventing people from going back to work. Andy Byford, London’s new transport commissioner, has come up with an proposed solution to coax people out of their homes. Per the Evening Standard, he’s mooted a scheme called First Ride Free, which would offer free rides to members of the public that haven’t gone into central London since the lockdown.
The theory is that free travel would incentivise Londoners to take the first step to return to their pre-pandemic lives, and head back to the heart of town. Fears surrounding transport (and the difficulty of social distancing aboard Tubes and buses) are also affecting businesses, as people are reportedly just as hesitant to socialise in public spaces. As a result shops, restaurants, museums and galleries in central London are suffering financially due to this. The aim of First Ride Free is to diminish these fears, and kill two birds with one scheme!
Government officials are currently discussing the proposal, and if it’s approved, millions of people could be entitled to free rides. It would require government funding and subsidies from businesses in order to go ahead, but it would undoubtedly give the local economy the boost it needs. We’ll keep you updated with any further developments on this when they appear.