News & events

‘The inside track’ on the capital’s commuter behaviour

Metro, TFL and Global join forces to host a live webinar.

The first in a new series aimed at keeping London moving, ‘The Inside Track’ webinar brought together Metro editor Ted Young, TFL’s director of customer service Brian Woodhead and Global’s director of commercial outdoor and DAX Ollie Deane and host LBC’s Shelagh Fogarty.

The misconception that London Underground is lying eerily empty while the city stays at home was easily debunked. According to a November TFL customer survey, 2.2 million people used the network last week with 70% of Londoners feeling very safe travelling across the network.

Discussing the impact of the pandemic on the underground, Woodhead said that TFL has worked tirelessly to make sure that the underground is safe to transport “the cities key workers were needed most and home again”.

What’s the mood among Metro readers?

Initially, the Metro team had to work hard to adapt, learn and keep the paper going for all the key workers still using the TFL network to get to and from work. But as the virus sticks around, readers working from home have echoed a strong desire to get moving again.

“Londoners do want to get back to work” Metro editor Young said. “Particularly the younger ones who share home spaces. Not everybody lives in a palace!”

Readers were also desperate for Metro’s beloved tone of voice to provide them with much-needed relief from mundane lockdown life.

Young added: “Prior to the latest lockdown, we were doing ‘London Unlocked’ –  all the things you can still do in London. Our readers cannot wait to get entertainment and restaurants going; to get London going.”

It has also seen the return of Metro’s infamous Rush Hour Crush, though with a very Covid-era twist: “We get submissions, but now they’re asking about ‘the woman in the pink mask’…”

What has the impact been on advertising on the network?

From a commercial perspective, Deane offered advertisers an opportunity to stand out against others in the space with a simple reminder of the products and services they offer in the same way they did pre-COVID.

He said: “We’ve seen public opinion turn against the ‘we care, we’re here for you’ messaging from the beginning of the pandemic. Our research shows people have a real craving to get back to the normal things in life. Advertisers who have responded to that with a clear, simple, authentic message to remind people of their brands, are the ones that have excelled.”

Looking to the future

It’s been an incredibly hard year for all involved (as Young puts it: “TFL staff have been absolute heroes during this pandemic. They deserve medals!”) but the panel was optimistic about 2021. Though we shouldn’t expect commuter numbers to soar overnight, Woodhead said it wouldn’t be unreasonable to predict to see 80% of TFL’s pre-Covid 5 million journeys a day, in a year’s time.

Deane finished by adding: “As we go into next year, TFL will play a big part in getting us back to the things we love to do. London Underground is part of the fabric of London. The city can’t function without it.”

Sentiments echoed, we’re sure, by every Londoner.


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