Tube travel will not be free on New Year’s Eve for the second year running due to the coronavirus pandemic, Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed.
Before COVID-19, London’s underground network has been traditionally free to use from 23:45pm until 4:30am since 2000.
However, TfL has announced that due to the “catastrophic impact of the pandemic” on the network’s finances, those wishing to celebrate the New Year in the capital will have to pay as they did in 2020.
Last year’s celebrations were restricted due to the pandemic, and this year a ticketed event at Trafalgar Square will replace the annual fireworks display that takes place on the Thames.
Reacting to the announcement, Labour Mayor of London Sadiq Khan called on the government to “step up” and provide more funds for TfL.
The current government bailout deal expires on 11 December and TfL are calling for £500m to keep services going until April plus £1.2bn over the next two years for maintenance.
Mr Khan posted on social media: “I’d love to be able to offer free travel on NYE but the reality is that COVID decimated TfL’s finances.
“The government needs to step up and provide the additional funding TfL has needed since fares revenue plummeted. Choosing not to would be catastrophic for London.”
A spokesperson for the mayor of London added: “This year, TfL are unable to offer free travel on New Year’s Eve due to the devastating impact the pandemic had on its finances.
“However, services on the network will be running throughout the night, ensuring that everyone can enjoy what London has to offer and travel around the city easily and safely.”
The free travel is usually able to be put in place with help of the funding of a sponsor.
The mayor has recently warned that an entire Tube line could close if more funding is not provided by central government.
Mr Khan has said lack of funds could force a “managed decline” of services, and that shutting one of the London Underground’s 11 lines could be a “possibility” without further financials support.
The government has paid almost £4bn to keep TfL services running during the coronavirus pandemic.