Fare rises, strikes and signal failure – It’s not “good service”

Alex Kalinauckas

Alex Kalinauckas


“All other lines are operating a good service”. Great. Just great. I’m so delighted to hear that automated-TFL-voice-lady, I’m so happy for your joyous achievement.

Time and time again, Londoners hear these robotic propaganda messages being spewed from a 1984-esque faceless speaker and understand that their journeys are going to be totally screwed. So with public transport fares rising once again last month and with the capital set to be brought to a standstill by strikes this week, it’s time we stood united and told TFL, Boris and the faceless-PA-people that enough is enough.

We’ve all been there, heading home in the wrong direction, being crushed by the bulky gentleman to your right, getting unintentionally intimate with the lady to your left who is clearly on the verge of calling for police assistance, because the service has failed yet again, despite paying an arm and a leg (that you can no longer feel) to use it.

I get it: a transport system originally built in the Victorian era is going to run into one or two problems every now and again, but why does it seem to happen every time I step within three feet of a tube train?

Last month, the price of a pay-as-you-go tube fare rose 3.6% and a seven-day pass went up 4.1% with the average price rise at 3.1%. Boris Johnson has claimed this is a “freeze”, in-line with rates of inflation. But with prices going up year after year, it certainly doesn’t feel that way.

And another thing which has maddened commuters all over the capital: the series of infuriatingly, cutesy posters which appeared over the holiday period that proclaimed TFL had “Cut delays by 40% – WHOOSH!!” They only add to the sense of injustice when reading that there will be an inexplicable 10-minute wait for the next train during rush hour.

These spin-heavy, propagandised announcements via PAs, posters and Tweets are not helping anyone. Perhaps instead of spending more and more of our cash on marketing ploys, TFL could invest in some signals that are immune to the mythical and enduring, “signal failure”.

After all, the Japanese and the Swiss have managed to prove to the world that trains can be run on time without resorting to frowned upon, totalitarian tactics.

So why TFL, over 150 years after the opening of the London Underground, are we still standing uncomfortably close to complete strangers day after day, because our money hasn’t been spent on more reliable systems well into the 21st Century? And don’t bother to tell me about the luxurious space that people are enjoying on the other lines, I’m too busy struggling to stay upright and conscious on this one.

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