Tube strikes 'can be good for the economy' a new study finds

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If headlines are to be believed, the recent tube strikes caused ‘travel chaos’ and ‘commuter misery’, but new research suggests such walkouts are not all bad and, in fact, can have a positive effect on the economy.

The London Undergroun shutdown forced commuters to find alternative routes to work, many of which turned out ot be more efficient, according to the study by the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford.

Many have since stuck to those revamped journeys, saving time and money in the long term.

The researchers analysed Oyster card data from the February 2014 Tube strike, in which only part of the Tube was closed, allowing for a direct comparison of how affected people changed their journeys and whether they went back to their original route once all lines had reopened.

About one in 20 affected commuters decided to stick with their new route.

By performing a cost-benefit analysis, the researchers found that the time saved over the next four years will actually outweigh the time lost by commuters during the strike.

The researchers suggested that the strike had this affect for two reasons: the London Tube map does not accurately show the distance between stations and Commuters discovered that Tube lines travel at different speeds and found a faster one.

“Our findings illustrate that people might get stuck with suboptimal decisions because they don’t experiment enough,” said co-author Dr Ferdinand Rauch from Oxford’s Department of Economics.

Being forced to alter routine can end up having net economic benefits – a phenomenon known as the Porter hypothesis.

The Tube Strikes, over the introduction of the 24-hour tube, have sharpened the deabte around a new Trade Union Bill, which was discussed in parliament today.

The new legislation would require 50% turnout for industrial action ballots, and 14 days’ notice instead of the current seven.

Such plans have been dismissed by Frances O’Grady general secretary of the Trade Union Congress as “disgracefull and daft”.

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September 14, 2015 |
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