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Dr Jenny McArthur, Enora Robin and Emilia Smeds of University College London discovered that most night workers still rely on low-frequency, slow night buses to get to work despite a new transport strategy introduced to enhance London’s night time economy.

Most night workers earn low salaries and live further away from the city centre meaning they are not able to make the most of the new weekend Night Tube, instead enduring long commutes on night buses.

Areas with the highest share of night workers for whom accessing transport is an issue include Newham, Hounslow, Ealing, and Barking and Dagenham. Displacement from central London due to rent increases and gentrification is making things more difficult.

Night buses are integral to support night time commutes. 51% of all night bus journeys are to travel to or from work, compared with a similar 52% for day bus trips, according to TfL. Furthermore, 57% of night bus users are from households living on less that £20,000 per annum.

The researchers say that business interests overwhelmingly informed the initial Night Strategy for London, with business campaigning group London First commissioning an Ernst & Young report on London’s 24 Hour Economy. This report acknowledged that night-time workers come from a wide range of sectors, however, the estimated economic benefits of the Night Tube focus heavily on hospitality and culture, thus overlooking the needs of night-time workers working in other areas.

The new research informs the agenda for an inclusive night time policy strategy, exploring who works at night and the current state of transit services across the night tube and night buses. The research clearly highlights the urgency for the Greater London Authority to give greater consideration to the needs of night-time workers, including nurses, cleaners, venue staff and those working in logistics.

Jenny McArthur told the conference:

“London's Night Strategy is a key opportunity to improve transport for the 720,000 workers who keep the city running at night. Travel needs are more complex at night, and our research focuses on building an evidence base to better understand the diverse needs of night-time workers, to translate this agenda into transport planning and service provision.”



Notes to editors:

1. For further media enquiries, including press passes and interview requests, please contact RGS-IBG’s Press Officer, Giulia Macgarr, at or 020 7591 3019.

2. Dr Jenny McArthur, Enora Robin and Emilia Smeds’ presentation is taking place on Wednesday 29 August at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) Annual International Conference at Cardiff University. The conference is being held from August 28 – 31. It is the largest geography conference in Europe, with more than 360 sessions and 1,300 papers being presented. Full details on the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2018 can be found at

3. The Royal Geographical Society (with The Institute of British Geographers) is the learned society and professional body for geography. Formed in 1830, our Royal Charter of 1859 is for 'the advancement of geographical science'. Today, we deliver this objective through developing, supporting and promoting geographical research, expeditions and fieldwork, education, public engagement, and geography input to policy. We aim to foster an understanding and informed enjoyment of our world. We hold the world's largest private geographical collection and provide public access to it. We have a thriving Fellowship and membership and offer the professional accreditation 'Chartered Geographer’.