Five times a year TfL holds a board meeting at which lots of high level issues are discussed in public. Five days in advance, all the papers for that meeting are tabled online, where anyone can read them. And often they contain facts, strategies and explanations you just don't get to hear anywhere else. A few news outlets scour the board papers for nuggets that might be of wider interest, while others continue to wait for TfL's press department to send them 'news' and republish that. I prefer digging to parroting, so below are 20 (not necessarily interesting) things you could have learned at this week's TfL board meeting.
• Significant changes to the proposed development above the new Tube station at Battersea, led by the Battersea Power Station Development Company, mean that the station design needs to be revised to ensure it can support their proposed new, more ambitious structures. These revisions will lead to increases in the overall cost of the project which we are seeking to recover from the developer.
• The 150th of the eventual 191 walkthrough air-conditioned S stock trains has now entered service on the Circle, District, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines. One extra train has been purchased to ensure that the fleet will be large enough when the Metropolitan line is extended from Croxley to Watford Junction.
• The Mayor set a target in 2011 aiming to further reduce delays on London Underground by 30% by the end of 2015. Delays have since reduced by an impressive 38% and are at their lowest ever level.
• The refurbishment of the roof at Farringdon station, originally dating from 1865, has won Best Entry 2015 in the National Railway Heritage Awards.
• Crossrail remains on time and within the funding envelope of £14.8bn. Overall, the project is more than 70% complete.
• At Moorgate station, the newly-constructed passenger tunnel linking the Northern line to Crossrail runs less than a metre below the Northern line’s northbound tunnel.
• In advance of Crossrail, a new customer information display is being tested at Manor Park. The integrated display system provides information about TfL Rail and network-wide travel and details of disruptions to other transport services.
• To create a large-scale artwork in the Tottenham Court Road Crossrail station, gold leaf will be hand-gilded on the ceiling above the eastern ticket hall.
• As part of the Zero Emission Urban Bus System (ZeEUS) project, wireless charging is being trialled on range-extended hybrid double-decker buses on route 69 between Canning Town and Walthamstow.
• The introduction of digital advertising panel technology at bus shelters, from 22 February, will see 650 new panels installed by the end of August. This will provide an interactive way for advertisers to showcase their products and a means to provide local information to customers.
• The central section of the East-West Cycle Superhighway (Tower Hill to Lancaster Gate) will be completed by May, with works in Parliament Square targeted for completion before the London Marathon on 24 April. CS1 and the CS2 upgrade are scheduled to be complete by April.
• The Central London Grid is a set of connected routes for cyclists across central London. A total of 126 borough schemes contribute to the Grid, 33 of which (16km out of 100km) are now either under construction or complete. Designs for 104 of the 126 schemes have been received from the boroughs, of which 94 have been approved by TfL.
• On an average day 6.4 million walk-all-the-way trips are made, and walking accounts for 30% of all trips made by Londoners. Two-thirds of journeys of one mile or under are made on foot and walking is the most common mode for shopping trips and trips to and from school.
• The proportion of Pay As You Go journeys being made using contactless payment cards continues to increase each week, reaching 27% for Tube and rail journeys and 23% for bus journeys. These numbers are increasing at between 0.2-0.4% each week. Nearly 25,000 new cards are being used every day. The share of mobile devices in overall contactless use stood at approximately 3.5% in December.
• Oyster Pay As You Go top-ups, which represent about 70% of all sales transactions, are down year-on-year by about 8%, reflecting customers switching from Oyster to contactless. Changes introduced as a result of contactless have reduced the cost of revenue collection from 15% of revenue to below 9%, with initiatives already in place projected to reduce this to around 6% of revenue.
• Sales of Travelcard season tickets on London Underground have decreased by 9.5% overall with a much bigger drop of 12.9% per cent for weekly Travelcards where weekly capping is now available as a substitute. Annual Travelcard sales have increased in line with traffic. Sales of daily Travelcards have dropped by more than 50% in London, in line with the projections when the January 2015 fares changes were made.
• The closure of LU ticket offices has been accompanied by an increase in the number of ticket machines at major stations. When combined with a reduction in the number of sales transactions, this means that customers are seeing shorter queueing times and a better ticket buying experience.
• On Saturday 2 January the Oyster system failed when the new 2016 fares were due to go into effect at 04:30. The cause was quickly diagnosed and a fix was tested and applied system-wide by 09:30. One of several data tables which deal with special fare types was configured incorrectly and this resulted in the readers detecting an incomplete set of tables. As soon as this fault was discovered a recovery plan was activated and the system returned to operation. The full revenue loss of around £250,000 will be recovered from TfL's contractors. This was the first Oyster failure since 2008. During the downtime period, contactless payment cards and paper tickets worked as normal.
• Visitor admission numbers at the London Transport Museum remained high throughout 2015, regularly exceeding target. It remains on track to reach record-breaking numbers of around 400,000 by the end of March. December trading for the webshop was up by £42,000 (67%) on last year.
New Year's Eve
• For the second year running there were fewer people in central London on New Year's Eve, with significant reductions in the numbers of non-ticket holders attempting to view the event. Although the reasons for this are not fully understood, a combination of factors including public information and the weather are likely to have had an impact.