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.
Don’t look here for a bike after 5.30PM, docking station on Scala Street, W1
The ability of casual users to make use of the London Cycle Hire scheme has been delayed again. TfL are now saying it will be the “end of the year” before you will just be able to just turn up and hire a bike without being a member. Supportive in public of Serco (the company running the scheme), the Mayor’s Transport Advisor Kulveer Ranger described this turn of events as a “fucking PR disaster” in private. No shit, Sherlock. Not allowing casual users onto the scheme is bad in itself – a key feature of the advertised scheme is not operating. Worse however it means one of the key assumptions that makes the scheme work at all (even for members) is now substantially undermined. Expensive and badly managed, the cycle hire scheme is now stuck between a rock and a hard place.
The choice of candidates wasn’t ideal and the campaign not entirely riveting, but the different choices on offer to Labour members for their candidate for Mayor are now clear. Oona King has made great play of being the new kid on the block, but that’s been at the expense of developed policy ideas particularly in the area of transport. Far too often she has also forgotten that the real enemy are the Tories and not her fellow Labour members who may have just chosen not to support her. Ken is also far from being the finished article that can put right what went wrong leading up to his defeat in 2008, but some positive elements have appeared during the campaign. Because of this, his greater grasp of the problems London faces and his greater experience, he is the better choice for the Labour Party.
Don’t ever say this blog doesn’t tackle the big issues. It’s not sexy and most of us don’t really want to think about it, but refuse collection and recycling is probably the service people use most from their local authority. So I’ve done the thinking for you.
Brent’s current recycling service is poor and inefficient. In the new waste strategy the papers have predictably and regrettably focussed on a move to fortnightly collections for non recyclables. This isn’t the really story – the increase in recycling that’s also included is far more significant and could result in a significant decrease in waste sent to landfill.