14th August 2019

London Living - Transporting London


How was your journey into work today? Considering London workers spend an average of just over 2 hours each day moving to and from the office I hope it was ok, but I suspect it was pretty cramped in parts, slow and during these summer months also pretty hot. When it was created in 1863, the first tube line ‘The Met’ transported 1 million people in its first year, last year this number was closer to 70 million – hardly surprising then that London Transport is bursting at the seams.

In this week’s LondonLiving, DTZ Investors’ analyst Jessica Mueller looks at the challenges commuters face and the options available to them for change.

Have you ever worked out how many hours you take up commuting each year? London workers typically take 74 minutes (148 minutes a day) to commute which equates to 25 days a year, this is almost double the worldwide average. Imagine what you could achieve with an extra 25 days…. 5 weeks more holiday a year? A commute into London can be long, unreliable and hot, which leeds to stressed and demotivated workers or stressed and tired partners/parents, not exactly the right base for a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Commutes in London have been getting longer as Londoners are being priced out of their own city with the rising housing prices over the last 20 years. This in turn has seen the demand for rail increase by 12% over the last 6 years and the dated infrastructure is now starting to struggle to keep up with the constant use as well as the more extreme weather. The current infrastructure is continually being replaced to keep the trains running but it seems an almost impossible to task to complete. The last significant upgrade to the rail infrastructure was in the 1960’s when diesel trains were introduced, since then there has been no large advancement, apart from slowing down trains to check for cracks since the Hatfield derailment.

If London commuters could get back half the time they spend commuting back, they could gain on average 6 hours a week, almost a full working day. Changing the infrastructure would help this but it would be a costly project which would take years to complete and implement. Therefore, we need to come up with new innovative ways to make commuting in London more tolerable.

Some Londoners have resorted to old fashioned cycling, there has been a rise in the number of cyclists commuting into the city. London is not well equipped for cyclists and therefore not exactly the safest option (although statistically it is a riskier to be a pedestrian apparently). Cycling to and from work means you combine both your commute and your workout and minimise you transport and gym costs. This works well for over 730,000 people, greatly relieving some pressure on those individuals and the transport system.

Technology has advanced at an incredible rate throughout this same period which has enabled us to work remotely and flexibly but it is yet to become acceptable in every industry. If everyone was to work at home once a week or work flexible hours, we could relieve a lot more pressure on the transport system – in fact we are already starting to see this in action – the signallers at Bank Station now change the direction and flow of the escalators on a Friday compared to the rest of the week as they know there are fewer commuters coming through the station.

So changes are afoot, however, there is a long way to go and its up to employers to focus on making the employees lives more balanced and take away unnecessary stress by trying to come away from the standard 9-5 day which no longer is necessary.

Jessica Mueller


LondonLiving is a weekly thought piece looking at different aspects of life in the capital; from the logistics of deliveries, the plight of loneliness, through to how generation rent is shaping its future.

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