diamond geezer

 Friday, February 12, 2010

Sorry, I wasn't going to write about Bank station again today. But I've been prompted to do so by a comment I received yesterday from someone called Audrey.
So, just why, exactly, do you think that TfL are instructing people in the way they are? Do you think, perhaps, that they really want to be ripped apart by bloggers and journalists for giving people pointless and time wasting instructions? Do you think, perhaps, that some manager in a remote office who has never ever even been to the station just makes this stuff up for the fun of it? Would it be wrong of me to believe that they might actually have asked the staff who operate the station to suggest alternative operating plans? Maybe even offered them high street vouchers for the best solution? You know, asked the poor grunts who are going to be bombarded with complaints as soon as the hoarding go up just how to manage the flow of people? I can see that you think they don't know how to do their job, but I'm going to have to disagree there. And one of my mottos? If you think you can do someone else's job better than them, apply for the position; otherwise shut up.
Audrey | 11.02.10 - 10:55 am
It's possible that Audrey is a genuine reader, taking me to task for a snobbish high-and-mighty online rant. Or it's conceivable that 'Audrey' works for TfL, and has logged in undercover to give me a piece of her mind. I have no way of knowing which it might be. But I know that Audrey's angry, and that she knows rather a lot about hoardings and high street vouchers. And that she's missed the point of yesterday's post, which was that TfL's information campaign is rubbish, not that TfL staff are generally incompetent.

Twenty minutes later Audrey's comment was followed by one from Craig. Taken at face value, Craig appears to be supporting me rather than Audrey. But something in his tone of voice suggests that he's talking with tongue firmly planted in cheek. So I've added an irony flag at the end of his comment, because I suspect he also thinks I'm an arrogant know-it-all blogging bastard.
Audrey I think you're wrong. The author of this piece has clearly undertaken a careful analysis of customer numbers and pedestrian flows at Bank. so he's up to date with the risk assessments and evacuation plan agreed with the fire authorities. His appreciation of the the impact of the new 3-car DLR service in terms of the numbers of extra passengers it will bring is second to none. After all, he's been party to the planning for months. More than that, as he's personally responsible for the safe operation of the station he's fully qualified to proclaim the advice to avoid Bank as rubbish. He could also do the work quicker becuase he's an expert at dismantling old escalators and bringing in the new parts for their replacement to stations three or four storeys underground. He's done it loads of times before and is used to keeping the stations around his work site open for customers to use each day and all the train services running. Diamond Geezer's knowledge is total. He rocks. photos
Craig | 11.02.10 - 11:12 am
That irony flag is fully justified, I think. Thanks "Craig", and thanks "Audrey", for your exasperated comments. But I'm afraid I'm sticking to my central premise, which is that TfL are guilty of a campaign of misinformation regarding the partial closure of Bank/Monument station. I can't be sure whether this misinformation is deliberate, to scare away as many people as possible and keep the passageways emptier than they might have been, or whether it's because their publicity people don't think before they write.

What is clear is that almost everything TfL tell us about using Bank/Monument is too simplistic. On one level it needs to be, because tourists need to understand what's going on and so do folk with English as a second language. Also, it's important for Health & Safety reasons to minimise the possibility of a mega-nasty crush-related incident deep under the Square Mile. But some of us have literacy skills and IQs above 90. We don't need to be spoonfed unhelpful over-generalised statements which state point blank that the whole of Bank is a permanent no-go zone. Statements like...
"Avoid changing trains at Bank"
Central ←→ DLR (yes, probably avoid)
• Northern ←→ DLR (should be fine) (unless they're adding some nightmare one-way system on the stairs)
Central ←→ Waterloo & City (no disruption)
• Northern ←→ District (no disruption)
Central ←→ Circle (never much fun at the best of times)

"Avoid changing trains at Bank"
• 8:30am Monday (yes, avoid)
• 2:30pm Tuesday (probably not too bad)
• 5:30pm Wednesday (might be worth avoiding, in places)
• 10:30pm Thursday (almost certainly no hassle at all)
• 4:30pm Sunday (almost certainly no hassle at all)

"Use alternative stations nearby wherever possible"
• on a Central line train at Bond Street, wanting to get to Bank, 8am Friday (no, don't get out at St Paul's, the up escalators at Bank are fine)
• standing in the street outside Bank station, wanting to use the Northern line, 12 noon Thursday (no, use Bank station, for heaven's sake)
• standing in King William Street, wanting to use the DLR to get to Canary Wharf, 4pm Tuesday (yes, enter via Monument and down to the DLR that way)
• at Liverpool Street, trying to get to Waterloo, 10am Saturday (no, take the Central line to Bank, then change to the Waterloo & City)

It's OK, you don't have to actually read any of that lot. Just believe me when I say that the Bank situation isn't as cut and dried as TfL would have you believe.

I think the ludicrousness of it all is best summed up by this map, still to be found in every Waterloo & City line carriage.
Scary Waterloo & City line map
Here's a line with just two stations, and passengers are being advised on a sticker that it's impossible to interchange at one of them. How ridiculous is that?

Sorry, you didn't want to hear me going on and on about all this for a second day. Sorry, the disruption at Bank continues until at least the end of next year, so you're probably going to have to sit through me saying it all again at some point. But, however hard TfL's staff are working to ensure that Bank is upgraded in a safe and timely way, their public information campaign remains a condescending pack of absurd generalisations targeted at gullible sheep.

Sorry Audrey, you probably think I'm even more of a twat now than you did yesterday. And sorry to everybody else, because today I was originally planning to write a sweet post about a tea lady instead. Some other time.

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