Six things we learnt from this London property tube map

Another tube map. Another bloody tube map. Image: eMoov.

Sometimes, on my darker days, I wonder whether London's tube map obsession has gone too far. Is there no idea, no concept, no message too inappropriate, that coverage-hungry marketing teams won't try to hammer into a tube map format in their ceaseless search for viral clicks?

Anyway, the fact I'm writing this at all is proof that it clearly works, so let's get on with it.

The latest effort comes from online estate agents eMoov, and, in what is presumably an attempt to show that they know some stuff about houses or some such, it lists the average property prices in the vicinity of each tube station. Here it is:

 

There are a number of ways in which this is a bit rubbish actually. For one thing it uses live price data taken from property website Zoopla. So what we're looking at here is asking prices, rather than actual sales prices: the two are sometimes quite different.

For another, eMoov doesn't tell us how far from a station a property could be and still count as near it. In central London, a search radius of half a mile would bring up properties that are equally close to several stations; in suburbia, though, it would exclude homes that are in easy walking distance of the tube. There's no good rule of thumb that’ll work in the entire network.

The big problem with the map, though, is that it makes no effort to control for the types of property that are on sale. Studio apartments, terraced houses, six bedroom mansions – eMoov has bundled them all together and worked out the average price.

The result is that areas where most properties are small flats end up looking cheaper than those where most properties are large houses. On a like for like basis, though – comparing the price of a two-bed flat in each – they might not be.

Oh, and eMoov also couldn't be bothered to do those bits of London that aren't covered by the tube. They even cut out the Overground and the DLR. It's just laziness, isn't it? Is laziness really the best quality in an estate agent?

Also they call it an interactive tube map and that’s just a bloody lie.

Anyway, with all those caveats at out of the way, what does the map tell us?

The most expensive homes are at Piccadilly Circus...

Really? Bit noisy.

...or in Kensington

Better.

Houses in the City are cheap for zone 1, but still really expensive

Hardly anyone lives there, and those who do live in flats. Which probably explains the figures.

The most expensive suburb on the tube is Richmond

To be fair, it is nice.

The cheapest homes on the tube are out east

Specifically, in Barking and Dagenham.

You can't live at Heathrow

Oh.


If you want to see the whole thing, it’s here.

 
 
 
 

What's actually in the UK government’s bailout package for Transport for London?

Wood Green Underground station, north London. Image: Getty.

On 14 May, hours before London’s transport authority ran out of money, the British government agreed to a financial rescue package. Many details of that bailout – its size, the fact it was roughly two-thirds cash and one-third loan, many conditions attached – have been known about for weeks. 

But the information was filtered through spokespeople, because the exact terms of the deal had not been published. This was clearly a source of frustration for London’s mayor Sadiq Khan, who stood to take the political heat for some of the ensuing cuts (to free travel for the old or young, say), but had no way of backing up his contention that the British government made him do it.

That changed Tuesday when Transport for London published this month's board papers, which include a copy of the letter in which transport secretary Grant Shapps sets out the exact terms of the bailout deal. You can read the whole thing here, if you’re so minded, but here are the three big things revealed in the new disclosure.

Firstly, there’s some flexibility in the size of the deal. The bailout was reported to be worth £1.6 billion, significantly less than the £1.9 billion that TfL wanted. In his letter, Shapps spells it out: “To the extent that the actual funding shortfall is greater or lesser than £1.6bn then the amount of Extraordinary Grant and TfL borrowing will increase pro rata, up to a maximum of £1.9bn in aggregate or reduce pro rata accordingly”. 

To put that in English, London’s transport network will not be grinding to a halt because the government didn’t believe TfL about how much money it would need. Up to a point, the money will be available without further negotiations.

The second big takeaway from these board papers is that negotiations will be going on anyway. This bail out is meant to keep TfL rolling until 17 October; but because the agency gets around three-quarters of its revenues from fares, and because the pandemic means fares are likely to be depressed for the foreseeable future, it’s not clear what is meant to happen after that. Social distancing, the board papers note, means that the network will only be able to handle 13 to 20% of normal passenger numbers, even when every service is running.


Shapps’ letter doesn’t answer this question, but it does at least give a sense of when an answer may be forthcoming. It promises “an immediate and broad ranging government-led review of TfL’s future financial position and future financial structure”, which will publish detailed recommendations by the end of August. That will take in fares, operating efficiencies, capital expenditure, “the current fiscal devolution arrangements” – basically, everything. 

The third thing we leaned from that letter is that, to the first approximation, every change to London’s transport policy that is now being rushed through was an explicit condition of this deal. Segregated cycle lanes, pavement extensions and road closures? All in there. So are the suspension of free travel for people under 18, or free peak-hours travel for those over 60. So are increases in the level of the congestion charge.

Many of these changes may be unpopular, but we now know they are not being embraced by London’s mayor entirely on their own merit: They’re being pushed by the Department of Transport as a condition of receiving the bailout. No wonder Khan was miffed that the latter hadn’t been published.

Jonn Elledge was founding editor of CityMetric. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.