Metro passenger numbers still 70% down after lockdown eases
Metro passenger numbers have recovered faster than bosses expected, but are still 70% below normal levels.
Passenger numbers on the Tyne & Wear light rail network plummeted in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
And although commuters are gradually returning to carriages and stations, there are also concerns they may never reach pre-pandemic levels.
“We’re at about 30% right now,” said John Fenwick, director of Finance and Resources at Metro operator Nexus.
“It was 5% at the outset of lockdown, that was impacted by lockdown measures and messages from the government about public transport and working from home.
“The easing of lockdown restrictions on Metro supply have added to our ability to attract customers on a weekly basis.
“I think in terms of some of our earlier projections at the beginning of lockdown, to have got to 30 per cent by the beginning of July was probably better than anyone in the management team was expecting, but it is still a long way to go.”
Mr Fenwick was speaking at a meeting of the North East Joint Transport Committee’s Tyne and Wear Sub-Committee.
A report for members of the panel, made up of council chiefs from Sunderland, Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside, predicts both passenger numbers and income from fares will remain low for an ‘extended period’.
Even after this the network could see just 80% of its previous traffic.
This has also raised concerns about the region’s post-COVID economic recovery, with each Metro journey estimated to be worth about £8.50 to the wider region.