Kensal Green Tube Station
(Photo Credit: amandabhslater – licensed under Creative Commons)
Ticket office closures have rightly focussed attention on staffing levels at Tube stations. There is a current commitment to ensure that all Tube stations are staffed during operating hours. This is important not only because it works to reduce crime, but it also improves customer confidence, meaning they are more likely to use public transport even in off-peak hours.
There are however some worrying signs. Leaked memos obtained by the RMT show that the commitment is from time-to-time not observed. Other anecdotal sources indicate that this problem hasn’t got any better recently.
This blog has a particular interest in Kensal Green and for historical reasons staffing levels here are particularly sensitive. While London Underground (LU) insist that the station is always staffed, the way this is organised off-peak means it is less than effective and in many ways a waste of time. LU must recognise that staff are only helpful if they are visible and pro-active in helping passengers.
Boris Johnson Election Leaflet (Photo Credit: jaimelondonboy – licensed under Creative Commons)
Did you hear that? You’d need finely attuned hearing but I think that’s unmistakable sound of a dog whistle emmanating from City Hall in the direction of London’s suburbs. It’s widely assumed that discontent in Outer London was the cause of Ken defeat in 2008. While the data on that is somewhat mixed, its undoubetdley the case that people outside of Zones 1 and 2 were assiduously and successfully courted by Boris last time round. Some of the tactics he used last time will not work this time, in particular financial circumstances have forced him to clobber Outer London with more than its fair share of the recent fare increases. I tend to think however that Boris is starting along the process of defining a narrative around quality of life to again divide and conquer. Ken has made a bright start, but is again showing signs of getting distracted with side issues that will very quickly overwhelm any good work he does. For success he must concentrate on the job in hand, defining a vision for all Londoners that rejects Boris’s devisive approach.
The new Kindle from Amazon is a very impressive device, well conceived and highly featured for the price. In the short time I’ve had it I’ve come to really like it. Glad I didn’t buy an iPad.
“If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging”
The TfL Board on 22nd September is going to be asked to approve an extension of the Cycle Hire Scheme. By how much we will probably not know as TfL are now hiding behind commercial confidentiality to obscure the true cost of the scheme from Londoners. Apart from the fact that this project is now suffering from a severe lack of financial transparency, the business case produced by TfL shows it to be a poor investment. It is inconceivable that the Mayor’s political appointees to the board will have the courage to stand to up to him. It requires that the more independent members of the board take a stand and call a halt to the extension of this wasteful project and stop digging an even bigger black hole.
The Cycle Hire Scheme is still struggling. Casual use could be months away and TfL with their contractors, Serco, have been unable to solve operational issues that should have been fixed within a few weeks of launch. The business case, released through a Freedom of Information request from this blog, confirms that as originally conceived the scheme has a positive benefit/cost ratio but as costs have spiralled it now represents a poor use of public money. At the point the budget changed the decision to push ahead should have been re-evaluated and the scheme cancelled. Questions remain as to the process that was followed for the budget extension and as to whether the Mayor’s office in particular knew that the scheme was a poor investment but chose to continue anyway.
Sorry if you were one of the people that sent me an email today off the blog. They appear to have disappeared into thin air. Problem fixed now.
Its here! After weeks and weeks of prodding, the business case for the Cycle Hire Scheme landed in my inbox from TfL this morning. Its a weighty document and will take some time to analyse and cross check with other sources, but here’s my first thoughts that on the document.