Metro passenger numbers up to half of normal levels - school and work returns expected to boost figures even more
The return of workers to offices has seen a rise in the number of people travelling on the Tyne and Wear Metro.
But bosses have warned they still face a huge financial challenge to keep services running while also complying with social distancing regulations.
A spokesman for Nexus, the Metro operator, said: “Metro fare revenue has recovered to almost half of what it should be, but it is still nowhere near what it was before lockdown – the number of people travelling on our trains is about half of what it typically should be.
“The numbers have gone up slowly as lockdown has eased and some people have started to return to offices.”
Extra measures to ensure compliance with COVID-19 restrictions at main stations have included social distancing markers, mask vending machines and extra staff.
Bosses have insisted potential passengers should be ‘confident’ about travelling on the network.
But while the reopening of schools in September and gradual opening of offices and other workplaces has seen some regular commuters return to trains, many are still working from home.
Some remain hopeful however the business could be about to see a sustained increase in users.
“The farebox revenue is increasing faster than they [Nexus] anticipated and last week was at 45 per cent [of what it should be],” George Clark told a meeting of the North East Combined Authority’s Audit and Standards Committee, of which he is also vice chairman.
“We would imagine, with people going back to work and schools going back that that will increase from this week onwards.”
The network has been given £24.7million in total by ministers since May, but more is expected to be needed to keep trains running beyond October.