Visitors to key shopping areas returned to pre-pandemic levels as the Christmas spending spree began, the latest Tube data has revealed.
It came as Transport for London interim commissioner Andy Lord revealed there had been 78 million journeys on the Elizabeth line since it opened on May 24 - including a record 3.8m last week.
He said there had been 646,000 journeys on the line on Thursday December 1, its busiest day so far. It is now on course to break even in the 2023/24 financial year, Mr Lord told the TfL board.
Across the capital, 3.19m Tube journeys were made on Saturday, equivalent to 94 per cent of the 3.38m made on the first Saturday in December 2019.
Bus ridership was at 87 per cent of normal – there were 4.23m journeys, compared with 4.86m three years ago.
The Elizabeth line effect saw 201,000 entries and exits at Tottenham Court Road, 81,000 more than in 2019. Bond Street had 153,000 entries and exits, up 11,000.
But Oxford Circus was down 52,000 to 186,000 – possibly as passengers diverted to avoid the crowds.
About 508,000 journeys were made along the length of the Elizabeth line.
Glynn Barton, chief operating officer at TfL, said: “Weekend ridership levels on Tube and bus are increasingly edging towards those seen pre-pandemic and it’s great to see that at stations near key shopping locations we are hitting if not exceeding this.
“This is hugely positive to both TfL and the wider city as we take the next steps to support and grow the UK economy.”
Weekday Tube journeys are lagging around 75 per cent, and lower on Mondays.
TfL’s business plan predicts that by March 2026 overall Tube travel will only have reached 86 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while bus journeys will be at 91 per cent.
Dee Corsi, chief executive of New West End Company, said: "We’re seeing increasing numbers of visitors across the West End, with many taking advantage of the fantastic new Elizabeth line service . âOur hope is that people continue to enjoy all that the district has to offer over the festive period.”
Ros Morgan, chief executive of Heart of London Business Alliance, said: “It’s fantastic news that Tube travel has climbed back to pre-pandemic levels.
“World-class transport infrastructure, like the new Elizabeth line, sends the message loud and clear that - as a capital city - London is open to workers, visitors and investors. If the West End is more accessible and it’s more enjoyable to get around, then this increases footfall.”