5 February 2014
The Mayor of London, who campaigned for election on the promise of keeping ticket offices open, now plans to close them as part of the 12.5% cut in the budget of London Underground (LU) announced on 21st November. This will, at a stroke, reduce safety, reduce service, cause inconvenience to the travelling public and increase the cost of travelling cattle class. The intention of London Underground is to create a self-service, supermarket model, and that means all ticket offices are due to close by 2015.
The news of the savage cuts was given at the same time as announcing the 24 hour running of some tube lines; neatly hiding the cuts from all the headlines. The mainstream media has repeated London Underground’s assertion that the Railway Marine and Transport Union, the RMT, is striking action over the 24 hour running. They are not. They are having strike action over the cuts.
To support the closure of the ticket offices, London Underground states that only 3% of the tickets for the 1.2 billion journeys each year on London Underground are purchased at a ticket office. Oh dear, such lies, damn lies and statistics! That 3% is actually 36 million journeys a year, an average of nearly 100,000 journeys per day. However, these journeys are not neatly and evenly distributed between London Underground’s 270 stations: they are predominantly in the larger central London stations or transport hubs. I dare Boris to cycle up from the air conditioned comfort of City Hall to spend a day investigating local stations in Waltham Forest and Redbridge so that he can see with his own eyes just how well-used our ticket offices are. Remember your election promise to passengers, Boris?