London

by Thomas Hale

Fears of an incipient housing bubble in London – and concerns about the UK property sector in general – are soaring as quickly as the prices themselves. But not all bubbles are created equal – especially when it comes to first-time buyers.

How might rising house prices affect first-time buyers? The graph below shows the average UK house price compared to how much of the average take-home pay first-time buyers spend on repayments.

The most striking thing about the graph is the way price correlates so strongly to the stretched nature of first-time buyer households until mid-2009, at which point the two lines start to move in opposite directions. Prices have begun to go up again, but first-time buyers have become consistently less stretched across the UK. Read more

(c) Getty Images

By Henry Foy

Ten things to know about the 48 hour London tube strike that began last night:

1. 3.4m people use the tube every day, according to Transport for London (TFL). Not today they didn’t.

2. The strike is all about jobs. Boris Johnson and TFL, which runs the Tube, wants to close all tube ticket offices by 2015, at a cost of 750 jobs.

3. TFL say the public support the plans. Eighty-two per cent of respondents to their survey backed the move to close ticket offices, it said. But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, which is taking part in the strike, said a survey it commissioned found 65 per cent of tube users felt industrial action as a last resort was justified.

4. Forty-three stations, or 16 per cent of the total station network, were completely closed on Wednesday morning, TFL said. Read more

Emily Cadman

What would the UK capital look like if you mapped its amenities only using open data? This image, created as a piece of art work for the London Open Data Summit, offers one answer.

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Kate Allen

It’s often said that London is “full up”. But is this true?

At 8.3m people – more than 13 per cent of the total British population – London is booming. Many fear the pressure this is putting on services, infrastructure and housing. Heathrow airport is struggling to keep up with demand.

But the population of London isn’t that big, in relative terms – it isn’t even at a historic high. Read more

Chris Cook

Today, I gave a brief presentation – based on our previous stories – on the performance of London schools to the excellent Centre for London. Some slides are a little mysterious without my burbling over the top, but I hope it’s understandable enough.


Kate Allen

London cable car

(c) Bloomberg

The latest weekly passenger data for London mayor Boris Johnson’s Thames cable car is out – and it’s not good.

The cable car (sponsored by Emirates, and thus officially known as the Emirates Air Line) launched last summer and was billed as a new route for the city’s frazzled commuters, as well as a tourist attraction and a catalyst for regeneration in the areas it serves. It crosses the Thames between the Greenwich peninsula and Silvertown, to the north of Canary Wharf.

The cable car cost £60m to build and will cost Londoners £6m a year to run (Emirates has contributed £36m in sponsorship, spread over 10 years). It can carry up to 2,500 people an hour in each direction* – the equivalent of 30 buses. That equates to a maximum capacity of 65,000 people per day, or 455,000 a week (for comparison London’s busiest Tube line, the Northern, carries nearly a million passengers a day).

But TFL’s passenger figures show that the cable car isn’t getting anywhere near that level of use. On average our calculations suggest it may be* running at just 7 per cent of capacity. Read more