Long distance commuters could fill Albert Hall 13 times

london commuters70,000 people working in London are long distance commuters coming from outside the neighbouring regions of the East and South East. That’s enough people to fill the Albert Hall 13 times.

The London workforce consists of 4.7 million people. Data from the Office for National Statistics for where people live and where people work shows that around 3.8 million of them are residents. That leaves 880,000, or 19% of the workforce commuting to the city each day. And the proportion of commuters in the central London workforce is even higher at 25%.

Urbs looked at the data to see where commuters originated. The vast majority are making the daily journey from neighbouring regions of East and South East England but the rest are spending hours in a car, train or perhaps even flying to London for work. Long distance commuters include 5,000 people from Wales and Scotland and 3,000 from the North East of England.

Long distance commuters

But this is not just a story of one-way traffic. Thousands of Londoners take a reverse commute out of the city. 266,000 of them work across the South East. Although 363,000 people come in from the East of England only 10,000 go back the other way to work. 47,000 Londoners head further afield and commute to jobs across the country. A further 7,000 work overseas but remain resident in the capital.

Source data

See also

Tourists and commuters main Boris Bike users

Where in the world would you like to work?

Jobs concentrated in just 5 of London’s 33 boroughs


Poor sustainability and high cost public transport mar global cities win

High panoramaLondon scored poorly in the criteria covering the quality of life while winning the Cities of Opportunity global rankings by PwC. It came bottom of the list of 30 cities for the cost of public transport and scored poorly for sustainability.

The rankings by the international professional services company examines cities in 10 different categories that were determined by 59 data points and a survey of 15,000 of PwC’s staff around the globe. The company split the 10 categories into 3 broad areas – Tools for a Changing World, Quality of Life and Economics. As reported by Urbs, London topped the rankings for the first time with good scores in the first and third broad areas. But it was often marked down in judging quality of life.

There were 4 categories in the quality of life part; Transport and Infrastructure covered public transport, housing and construction; Health, Safety and Security looked at health care and crime; the Natural Environment and Sustainability considered recycling, air pollution and public park spaces; and Demographics and Livability looked at issues such as cultural vibrancy and attractiveness for relocation.

London came equal sixth in the first two categories. While its public transport system won accolades for efficiency and reliability it is the most costly among the 30 cities.

But it is in the scoring for the natural environment and sustainability that London slipped down, coming fourteenth. It achieved low scores for air pollution, recycling levels and, perhaps surprisingly, for its public parks.

Singapore joined London in a poor performance in this category prompting PwC to remark, “one would expect two cities as sophisticated as Singapore and London to be among the leaders, both regionally and globally, in environmental sustainability.”

In the livability stakes London rated highly as a vibrant cultural hub that was an attractive destination for workers. But for sheer ease and quality of living it was out-pointed by Sydney.

PwC Quality of Life categories
Transport & Infrastructure Health, Safety & Security Environment & Sustainability Demographics & Livability
1 Singapore Stockholm Stockholm/Sydney Sydney
2 Toronto SydneyToronto London
3 Buenos Aires Berlin/Paris San Francisco
4 Seoul Berlin Berlin
5 Paris San Francisco San Francisco Hong Kong
6 London/ Madrid Chicago/London/   Singapore Toronto Singapore
7 Chicago/Los Angeles Paris
8 Stockholm Stockholm
9 Berlin New York Moscow Toronto
10 Dubai Paris Madrid Chicago/             New York
14 London

Source data

See also

Economic clout helps London to another global cities crown

History gives city the edge in adapting to change in future


Pedestrians and cyclists push Westminster to top of road injuries list

Westminster pedestriansPedestrians and pedal cyclists were the biggest groups of people to suffer injuries on the roads in Westminster in 2014, pushing the central borough to the top for rates of casualties.

Westminster was one of 15 of the 33 boroughs (including the City of London) that recorded more than 1,000 casualties in 2014, according to figures from TfL. Westminster recorded more than 1,800 casualties including 469 pedestrians and 457 cyclists. The second highest level was in Lambeth, where cyclists were the largest group suffering injuries.

Road casuatles all

Car passengers dominated the high rates of total casualties in the outer boroughs of Ealing and Barnet. Both boroughs are crossed by major roads – the M1 and A1 in Barnet and the M40 in Ealing. Lowest casualty rates were in the outer boroughs of Sutton, Kingston and Bexley.

While overall casualty rates were up, the numbers killed or seriously injured in 2014 were down by 7% year-on-year, as previously reported by Urbs. Westminster and Lambeth recorded the highest rates for serious accidents. Barnet had the same rate as Lambeth, with 98 fatalities or serious injuries.

Road deaths

Looking at fatalities alone, Westminster had 6, Barnet 5, and Lambeth 9. There were 9 road deaths in Croydon too. Only Wandsworth had no deaths on the roads in the year.

Source data

See also

Road deaths and serious injuries down but pedestrians remain most at risk

Road disruption doubles but most journeys avoid the worse jams



25% rise in TfL staff earning more than £100,000

tube speeding pastThe number of staff at TfL paid more than £100,000 has gone up by 25% in the past year. More than 450 people are now earning 6 figures, according to its draft annual report.

This latest rise comes on top of a significant increase in the previous year. That was partly attributed to the massive Crossrail project, but of the 88 people who joined the £100k ranks in 2014/15 only 1 is working for Crossrail.

TfL staff earning over £100,000
2012/13 2013/14 2014/15
TfL 298 326 413
Crossrail project 30 40 41
Total 328 366 454

TfL says that the 413 includes 59 staff who received severance payments of more than £100,000 as part of it “efficiency savings”. There were also 91 staff who clocked up overtime to push their earnings over £100,000. TfL says their overtime was necessary as they are highly specialised engineers and project staff.

According to TfL the payments are a consequence of a massive modernisation programme that is underway to deliver faster and more reliable services. This includes replacing tracks and upgrading stations and signaling.

The boss of TfL, Sir Paul Hendy, saw his basic salary frozen. According to last year’s annual report he earns £331,357. He is eligible for a bonus of up to 50% of salary. This year he has taken £145,000 in bonus, that’s 87% of his entitlement, in line with TfL rate of delivery against its targets.

Source data

See also

Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story


Where 22,000 cars were stolen in the capital last year

dreamstime_s_27170312Wandsworth is the car crime capital coming top of the list of the 32 boroughs where a total of 22,000 cars were stolen last year.  Wandsworth wins the accolade only narrowly as car theft is spread quite evenly across the city and only 5 boroughs have fewer than 500 cars stolen. In comparison, cycle theft is far more focused on central areas, perhaps reflecting  a higher number of inner city cyclists and where commuters leave their bikes for the day.

Data from the Metropolitan Police for the 12 months to March 2015 shows that car theft went up by 8% on the previous 12 months. 1,052 cars were taken in Wandsworth, and Newham was just 5 cars behind. But, as our map shows, the pattern of theft was quite evenly spread with a few more dark areas in the east than west.

Car theft

Lowest levels were in the south west but the safest place to park a car was Harrow, with just 195 taken in the period.

Bike theft is focused on the centre of the city. 17,300 cycles were stolen in the 12 months to March 2015, a fall of 7%.  Westminster was the most likely place to lose you bike, with 1,296 taken followed by Hackney with 1,282 stolen cycles. These 2 boroughs, plus Camden, Islington, Tower Hamlets, Southwark and Lambeth form a central ring that accounted for nearly half the cycle thefts.

Bike theft

After these areas the most worrying place to park your bike in a rack were the western boroughs of Wandsworth, Kensington and Chelsea, and Hammersmith and Fulham.

The outlying boroughs of Havering and Bexley saw the lowest bike theft figures.

Source data

See also:

Tourists biggest users of Boris Bikes

Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story

Availability of public transport below average in all outer boroughs


London has 19,000 bus stops, 270 Underground stations, 83 Overground stations and 45 DLR stations.  So you’d think that public transport would be pretty convenient for people right across the city. Well, not necessarily.

Urbs has mapped the Transport for London index which measures access to public transport across the city to show the borough variations.  Predictably, those in central London have the easiest access.  The average score on the index for the whole of London is 3.8.  In the City of London it is 7.9 and in Westminster 6.5. But all the outer London boroughs have below average scores with Hillingdon and Havering at the north eastern and western points of the capital with the poorest access.

public transport accessibility map


A comparison of the map with data on where new homes are being built in the capital (here on Urbs.London) shows that the boroughs with most housing development and potentially expanding populations, such as Newham and Croydon, have near average scores for access.

The index measures the number, reliability, waiting times and walking distances for public transport in a neighbourhood.  It does not take account of the speed, ease of connections or number of people using a servce.

Next time you are walking to a bus stop in anticipation of a long wait spare a thought for the people in the Kenley neighbourhood of Croydon.  They have the poorest score on the index at just 0.3.

Source data

See also

Traffic constant, profits up – a congestion charge story

Road disruption doubles but most journeys avoid the worse jams

hThe number of hours of traffic disruption each day on London’s streets has nearly doubled in the past two years.  And the trend is continuing, with February this year showing the highest level of daily disruption.

Transport for London releases monthly data for serious and severe disruption on the road network.  Serious is defined as congestion that is unusual at a time of day or location when the delay is less than 5 minutes when traffic lights are not on red.  Severe is defined as delays over 5 minutes.

Urbs calculated the average daily hours of disruption.  Our analysis reveals that the daily average across the network in 2012 and 2013 was 5 to 6 hours.  In the past 12 months it was nearly 10 hours a day, and was as high as 13 hours a day in February.

Road disruption

Much of the disruption is caused by planned road works. TFL points to the Hammersmith Flyover, the North Circular and Lower Thames Street as examples of major projects that have increased the hours of congestion.  But unplanned disruptions have also increased with substantial incidents such as a burst water main and an overturned lorry causing hours of delays in the past year.

Despite the huge rise in disruption, journey times across the road network have remained broadly steady according to TfL’s Journey Time Reliability figure.  This calculates the percentage of 30 minute trips that were completed on time or with a delay of less than 5 minutes.  For most Londoners road travel is a fast or as slow as usual, apart from those unlucky enough to drive down a road hit by a major incident.

Source data

Traffic pollution battle stalls

Pollution cars copy

The battle with harmful air pollution caused largely by vehicles has stalled.

Data analysis by Urbs of the Daily Air Quality Index collected by the Department of the Environment shows that the rate of small particle pollution in the capital has not seen significant change since 2008.

The index measures the rate of small particles in the air that are largely caused by road transport. It records 10 micrometres particles and smaller ones of 2,5 micrometres that are more harmful to health.

In the period from December 2008 to March this year there was a 15% reduction in the 2.5 micometre particles, but it has gone up slightly in the past 12 months. The rate of the larger particles has remained relatively unchanged with just a 1% reduction.

The air quality index is graded in bands between 1 and 10. The good news for London is that air quality remains in the low risk 1-3 levels. A comparison with other cities commissioned by the GLA in autumn 2014 shows that London has lower levels of traffic pollution than Paris, Barcelona and Los Angele but people could breathe a little more easily at the roadside in Madrid, Berlin and New York.

Source data

International comparison


Tourists biggest users of Boris Bikes

Tourists and casual customers not London commuters are the big users of the city’s cycle hire scheme, the so-called Boris Bikes.

Boris bikes

Data analysis by Urbs reveals that in 2014 more journeys began from the bike docks around Hyde Park, one of London’s busiest tourist and leisure spots, than the combined total of journeys from 4 of the capital’s busiest railway stations – Waterloo, Liverpool Street, Kings Cross and Victoria.

In 2014 (figures Jan to Oct) 8.3 million journeys were taken using the bikes. Of those, 749,000 began at the Hyde Park bike racks – Hyde Park Corner, Albert Gate, Black Lion Gate, and Kensington Gate. That compares to 214,000 journeys that started at Liverpool Street and 213,000 at Waterloo.

The data also indicates that many users are taking the bikes for a leisurely ride rather than using them to get to a specific destination. More than half of the journeys that started in Hyde Park also ended there.

The numbers gathered by TfL show that commuters arriving from out of town into the city’s main rail terminals are the biggest users of the bikes in the morning rush hour between 7-9am. In that period the top 5 hire locations are all at the big stations, including 3 racks at Waterloo. And users are pushing the bikes back into the racks in the City. The top 5 dropping off points in the morning rush hour are all in the financial district. The average journey time in this period is 16 minutes.

Later in the day the average journey time goes up to 24 minutes and the focus of activity moves west. Across the day the top 3 busiest locations are around the entrances to Hyde Park.

27,000 journeys are taken each day, on average. Across the year it varies from a January average of 15,000 to the peak in July with a daily rate of 35,000. As might be expected the numbers go down on rainy days, though it seems the commuters are hardier folk than the visitors. Weather data shows that on January 29th 2014 it poured with rain and bike journeys dropped by 30% from 15,000 daily average to 10,000. It also rained heavily on August 25th, at the peak of the London tourist season when many Londoners are away on holiday. The 30,000 daily average plummeted to just 6,000, a fall of 80 per cent.

The cycle hire scheme was introduced on July 30th 2010. The Mayor, Boris Johnson, said at the time that it would transform travel for Londoners and visitors.  The data suggests that the tourists have got the message, and commuters who travel into the city to work are the other significant group of users. But Londoners living outside zone 1, who are helping to subsidise the scheme through their taxes, don’t appear to see the bikes as part of the home to work solution.

There are currently 11,500 bikes and 748 docking stations. The scheme was extended to the west and south west of the city in 2013. But many of the new locations are among the least used, including Clapham, Shepherd’s Bush, and East Putney. The Clapham Common site takes the low usage award with just 469 hires last year – an average of 1.28 per day.

Cycling has grown remarkably in the city in recent years. In 2014 600,000 journeys were taken each day by bicycle. The 27,000 daily Boris Bike journeys make up a fraction of that. For most Londoners getting on your bike means buying your own rather than tackling the miles across the sprawling city on a chunky 23 Kg machine.

Source data:

Cycle hire numbers 

Cycle journeys in London