Yesterday TfL published its draft budget for 2018/9. It's packed with figures for all modes of public transport, and confirms that things aren't great but they aren't awful either.
I've chosen to focus on two statistics - how much a journey costs the average passenger, and how much each journey costs TfL. In economic terms, that's Average yield per passenger journey and Operating cost per journey. What follows is data for the current financial year.
Underground Average yield per passenger journey: £1.94 Operating cost per journey: £1.87
The average passenger making the average tube journey pays £1.94, but that journey only costs TfL £1.87 to run. That's good news for TfL, it means they're making 7p on every journey. Technically TfL don't make a profit, they pump all the extra back in as investment, but it's good to know the tube is "paying its way".
Buses Average yield per passenger journey: 65p Operating cost per journey: 96p
Bus fares may be £1.50, but the average income from the average passenger is less than half of that. That's partly thanks to the Hopper fare, but mostly because older people pay nothing. However, funding each bus journey costs 31p more. It means TfL are financing London buses as a public service, rather than as a profit-making enterprise.
Crossrail Average yield per passenger journey: £1.85 Operating cost per journey: £3.17
Crossrail's not up and running yet, so the average yield refers to TfL Rail - a single line out to Shenfield. At present that's raking in approximately the same amount of money per journey as the Underground. But the operating cost is much larger, and next year it increases even more, up to a whopping £5.19 per journey. TfL says this is due to "the growth in services and, in particular, the introduction of central section access charges." Nevertheless, Crossrail will be feeding a lot more passengers onto other services, and TfL expect its overall financial contribution to be positive.
The Overground loses money. The DLR makes money. Trams are essentially expensive buses.
Bike Hire Average yield per passenger journey: £1.16 Operating cost per journey: £2.41
It's an open secret that TfL's bike hire scheme is losing money. Hiring a bike costs a minimum of £2 a day, but riders are clearly enjoying several journeys for that money, hence the average take is lower. Meanwhile maintaining the infrastructure, and especially "moving the bikes around to where they're needed", is relatively much more expensive.
Dangleway Average yield per passenger journey: £4.31 Operating cost per journey: £2.63
This may be the surprise. The cable car has one of the highest operating costs per journey, but also by far the highest yield. £4.31 is a massive take, and strongly suggests that the majority of passengers are willing tourists (paying £4.50) rather than Brits using contactless or Oyster (£3.50). Every upsell of that miserable sponsored museum must help too. And next year the figures are predicted to get even stronger, "because of a new retail village at the O2", with the yield up to £4.82(!) and the operating cost down to £2.34. The Dangleway's passenger numbers may be on the slide, but TfL have faith that their highest yielding mode is looking up.