diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 26, 2015

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: very slowly
TfL announced their intention to close every ticket office on the network back in 2013, but only this month has the actual closure programme begun. Remember all the noise and fuss there was when the news first broke, carefully coupled with the big Night Tube reveal to act as cover? Now listen to the deafening silence as the axe finally falls. A few news outlets mentioned the first closures in passing, notably the Wimbledon Guardian because South Wimbledon was top of the hitlist. But the public seem to have got all the anger out of their system fifteen months ago, long since replaced with a sense of resigned capitulation.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: defiantly
Whatever everybody else said, TfL were resolutely consistent in their intention to close every single ticket office on the network. No ifs, no buts, no rolling over in the face of repeated strike action, just the firm restatement that no really, every single one would be closing. And as with so many seemingly immovable decisions, eventually the unions grew weary of shouting at a brick wall and the public lost interest and looked elsewhere.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: prematurely
Because management have long been absolutely certain that Transforming The Tube was the future, they started extinguishing ticket offices years back. For example, when Wood Lane station was opened to serve Westfield London in 2008, no ticket office was included, only a wall of machines. When Cannon Street reopened after a major makeover last year, tickets were available only from TfL's new improved prototype machines, rolling out at a station near you soon. And when Tottenham Court Road opened its flash new Crossrail-friendly entrance last month, the lack of a ticket office earned barely a mention. Design them out early, that's been the plan.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: by starting small
Only two* ticket offices are on the closure list this month, and they're not big ones. One is Queensway, in a part of the West End popular with suitcase-lugging tourists, and the other is South Wimbledon. Neither is a big-hitter with public opinion on its side, indeed both were probably selected to ensure that closure processes were workable on a small scale before being rolled out elsewhere. Next month another ten or so join the list, and then in the period April-June this number ramps up sharply to seventy-something. It'll be the end of the year, we're told, before the last ticket office finally succumbs. But by picking off a tiny number first, the masses closing later are merely part of an ongoing program and no longer news.
* This week Covent Garden's ticket office closed permanently too, by default, as the station switched back to exit only while some lifts are upgraded.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: peripherally
Several outer London stations with minimal passenger flows lost their ticket offices some years back. Chigwell, Roding Valley, Theydon Bois and Upminster Bridge are in the Underground's top ten least used stations, hence almost nobody minded when the staff there were kicked out of their little cubbyholes and the shutters brought down. The same set-up's coming to Oxford Circus and every other station soon enough.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: with misdirection
TfL's publicity machine is keen not to mention ticket office closures. They're focusing instead on "modernisation", and the benefits that bringing staff out from behind the window will bring. Hundreds of jobs are being lost, and not every station will see extra staff, but TfL aren't particularly keen to mention this either. "In the future, all stations will be staffed from the first to last Tube" they say, cunningly misdirecting passengers away from the fact that this is already the case. "We are moving our staff into ticket halls where they are more visible and can assist you more effectively" they say, and this may indeed turn out to be true. Why not pop down to Queensway or South Wimbledon today and see how the redeployed staff are adding value?

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: improvingly
TfL's official list of ticket office closures isn't headed "Ticket office closures", it's titled "Ticket hall scheduled improvement work". The marketing team of any organisation always looks on the positive side during a corporate restructure, because this helps to make enormous changes sound more palatable. TfL's "improvement" list chooses to focus on when stations are having their ticket offices functionally tweaked, and approximately how many months this will take. Most offices'll only take a month to become whatever they're going to be next, which might be a closed-off room or a knocked-through space with additional machines. Some stations like Gloucester Road and Mile End are pencilled in for 3 months, presumably because something seriously major is going to happen, while others are down for "1-3 months", which presumably means nobody's thought this through yet. Meanwhile Green Park, Baker Street and Russell Square have hit the jackpot with the maximum transformation period of 4 months, so expect something pretty wow afterwards, or maybe just a new Starbucks.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: imprecisely
Although TfL announced each station's transformation date in a list late last year, they've only ever published the month of closure, not the day. The first that regular station users know of the precise moment is the appearance of a board by the ticket window a couple of weeks before Doomsday - that's Stockwell's in the photo at the top of this post. By carefully controlling the information like this it's harder for the general public to focus any kind of campaign against specific closures, or indeed to even care.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: rebranding
Six particularly busy stations may be losing a ticket office, but they're gaining a Visitor Information Centre. This isn't just the same old ticket office tweaked a bit with a different name, this is recognition that visitors to London will still need personal attention, and that an office with a counter is the best way to deliver this. King's Cross is first up, with a remodelled VIC up the St Pancras end complete with colourful curves and Post Office style queueing, and scheduled to open this month. Following by the summer will be Liverpool Street, Victoria, Heathrow 123, Euston and Paddington. But that's your lot if you want counter service in the new world - either join the hideously long tourist queue or give in and use the machine.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: incompletely
Actually, not every station is losing its ticket office. Some are more Overground than Underground, so won't be culled immediately as part of this customer-facing transformation. Hence Gunnersbury, Harlesden, Harrow & Wealdstone, Kensal Green, Kenton, Kew Gardens, North Wembley, Queen's Park, South Kenton, Stonebridge Park and Wembley Central, along with Finsbury Park, are all on the closure list as "Timing to be confirmed". More long-termly, Barking, Ealing Broadway, Richmond, Upminster and Wimbledon aren't TfL-operated, so will be carrying on as normal unless their operating rail company chooses to pull the plug. If you still want to talk to a member of staff through glass, you know where to go.

How do you close all 300 Underground ticket offices and get away with it? The answer: realistically
Most Londoners haven't used a ticket office in ages. Only a small proportion of journeys start at a ticket window, and your Oyster card or contactless card probably functions perfectly well without the need to queue. And OK, so there'll be times when a machine can't cut it and human interaction will be required, in which case a member of staff "equipped with handheld mobile device" will be around to provide "up to the minute information". But if you've ever used the DLR, which has been pretty much ticket-office-free for decades, you already know deep down that we'll all cope.

2 Feb Queensway, South Wimbledon; 23 Feb Covent Garden; 2 Mar Bethnal Green; 9 Mar Brixton, Seven Sisters, Stockwell; 12 Mar Highbury & Islington; 22 Mar North Greenwich (any more?)


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sat 24 - Sun 25 September
Southend Charabanc
Seaside pleasure trip with arty installations linked by bus.
Part of the ESTUARY Festival.

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv