Boris breaks another promise

9:00 am - March 12th 2010

by Adam Bienkov    

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Boris Johnson will break his promise to keep all ticket offices manned on the London Underground it was announced yesterday.

Up to 800 jobs will go across the network including 450 ticket office positions and 200 other station posts.

TfL admit that this will mean many more unmanned ticket offices across the network, although none will close permanently.

In Boris Johnson’s Transport manifesto he promised to ensure that “there is always a manned ticket office at every station.”

However, the recession, losses from the PPP, and Boris’s own spending commitments means that he will now break that promise.

The Liberal Democrat’s London Transport spokesperson Caroline Pidgeon said today:

“Boris Johnson was elected promising to defend ticket offices and stop any planned closures that the previous Mayor was proposing across the London Underground network. Today’s announcement is a breathtaking breach of that key commitment he made to Londoners. It’s a complete u-turn.”

Labour’s London Transport spokesperson Val Shawcross said:

“This is the latest in a long line of broken Boris Johnson promises. He was elected on a pledge of protecting ticket offices and the staff who keep our stations safe but cuts, especially at outer London stations, will make them less safe and passengers feel less secure.”

Union bosses have also pledged to fight the decision. RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said this afternoon:

“If these cuts to jobs are bulldozed through by TfL it will turn London’s tube stations into a muggers paradise. RMT will fight to protect passenger and staff security on London Underground and in the event of compulsory redundancies and the undermining of tube safety we will have no hesitation in balloting for action.”

London Underground insist that there will be no compulsory redundancies, and point out that more and more people now use pre-paid Oyster Cards.

And with Boris already raising fares year on year, this is a painful but probably necessary pill for us to swallow.

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About the author
Adam Bienkov is a regular contributor and also blogs at Tory Troll, Guardian CIF, and New Statesman
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Reader comments

There seems to be a slight level of hypocrisy from the RMT though on this issue.

They claim that CCTVs wont prevent crime, which is technically correct as it simply displaces it to a different location – just as having a member of staff sitting behind a sheet of glass in a ticket office wont prevent crime – just move it to a different location.

However, when was the last time anyone saw a member of tube staff pro-actively get involved in preventing a crime occurring?

I have on rather too many occasions over the years seem people leaping over ticket barriers and the like – only for the staff to either totally ignore what happened or if trying to deal with someone refusing to actually touch them or restrain them.

If the tube staff had a long honourable tradition of actually dealing with crime as it happened, then there would be some justification in keeping them in their ticket offices – but as it is, they are just overpaid CCTV systems.

In that situation, why spend money on an expensive system, when a much cheaper and equally effective alternative exists?

Ian – my view is that the scaling back of ticket offices is inevitable. More and more people use Oyster cards and there are, as you suggest, better ways of spending the money. However, Boris can’t have it both ways. He campaigned on protecting ticket offices. It was a big part of his transport manifesto and he was keen to attach himself to the campaign to protect them.

In fact he made almost exactly the same arguments that the RMT are making now.

In Germany they have some pretty tough looking security staff who travel about on the S and U Bahns. Sometimes even with dogs. You certainly don’t want to mess with them.

I doubt they’d be allowed in Britain.

”Muggers paradise?” Is that really Bob Crow’s concern? Still, you’d think it’s a good thing just for someone to be around to keep an eye on things.

The stations are not going to be entirely unmanned are they?

I would also be interested to know the last time someone came out of a ticket office to deal with trouble…


Will this be followed by an appeal to bring back gun ownership to “deal with trouble”?

7. AdamBienkov

Cjcjc – we will have to wait and see but the worry is that this will be the case in smaller suburban stations.

If you take out 800 staff then it’s inevitable really. The fact that more CCTV is being brought in suggests this as well.

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Boris breaks another promise

  2. Joshua Fenton-Glynn

    Boris cuts transport staff against manifesto promis while labour bring in high speed rail #toryrailfail

  3. Tamarisk Kay

    I like talking to anactual person! RT @libcon: Boris breaks another promise

  4. Adam Bienkov

    RT @libcon: Boris breaks another promise

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