Transport for London (TfL) is set to lose £500 million as passengers abandon public transport amid coronavirus fears.

Underground travel is down almost 20 per cent on the same period last year – with bus journeys falling by 10 per cent.

There are now more than 400 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the capital.

And TfL says Tube and bus use has been falling since the start of the month, as public awareness of Covid-19 began to grow.

The transport authority says fewer people are making journeys, and those who are travelling are taking fewer trips.

There are fewer visitors to the capital, with fewer incoming trips from London’s airports.

Home-working and anxiety about catching the virus on public transport are also contributing to falling passenger numbers, the network believes.

Fewer people have been using TfL services since October last year, due to economic uncertainty – and a series of storms in February also dented revenue.

And despite slashing its £1.5 billion deficit, TfL still has a £200 million shortfall.

Based on Government modelling, it is now predicting half a billion pounds in lost fares from coronavirus

The transport authority has cash reserves to cover losses until at least the end of the year.

But TfL chief finance officer Simon Kilonback today called on the Government for support.

He said: “We manage our finances prudently, and have reduced our deficit hugely in recent years.

“This means that we can manage the impacts on our passenger numbers and finances that are currently envisaged.

“But, given the nature of the situation, we will be looking to the Government to provide appropriate financial support.

“We continue to follow and communicate Public Health England advice, including that there is no specific risk on public transport.

“We have also stepped up our cleaning regime from the already very high standards to give our customers and staff further reassurance.”