A new leaflet is starting to appear in racks at Underground stations. It's purple, it's 8 pages long and it's called Every Journey Matters. The leaflet sets out to summarise how Tfl are improving London's transport network, which is something TfL are perfectly entitled to shout about. There's also a microsite at tfl.gov.uk/improving with much the same information, and a related series of purple posters on station walls.
But something about the campaign, and its appearance four months before a Mayoral election, makes me wonder if there's an ulterior motive. This is a compilation of twelve transport improvements with the Boris seal of approval. A list of improvements, according to the microsite, specifically restricted to the years 2009-2012. And the leaflet comes with an introduction that's written and signed by TfL boss Boris himself...
I know every journey you make is important. It's important to me too. That's why London is undergoing a neo-Victorian era of investment in its public transport, and it's great that many Londoners are already enjoying a better, more reliable system.
It's never specifically stated, but the dozen selected schemes are all transport projects that Boris might seek to take credit for. First in the leaflet is the sponsored cablecar, obviously, while second comes the New Bus For London. There's then a big plug for Barclays Cycle Hire, but there's no mention anywhere of Cycle Superhighways (presumably because they're inadequate and kill people). Also on the celebratory shortlist are the DLR extension to Stratford International, smoothing traffic flow, Congestion Charge Auto Pay, the tube upgrade, live bus arrivals, etc... some of which Boris initiated, others he merely didn't cancel.
As I say, TfL have every right to crow about all the improvements they're making on our behalf. But why release a convenient potted summary now, reminding us how great the last three years have been, and how many more great things are due in the first half of 2012? With TfL's Chairman's up for re-election at the ballot box in May, I have to say, this campaign smacks of using public money for covert electioneering.