Today is a hugely important day in the life of the London Underground, not that anyone's been especially keen to highlight this in advance. Way back in 2013 TfL announced that they were closing all their ticket offices and redeploying staff at stations as a result. More technology would be brought in, several jobs would be lost, and existing staff would find themselves in different roles potentially at a completely different station. It was called the Fit For The Future programme, and it's been working through behind the scenes ever since, with the closure of ticket offices merely the tip of the operational iceberg.
And today is the day that the final model rolls out. A handful of guinea pig stations were selected to trial the new systems - specifically King's Cross St Pancras and the eastern end of the Central line - and they've been in live operation since 7th February. All the remaining stations switch over today, Sunday 3rd April, meaning the new station operating model is now in place across the entire Underground network.
The largest changes are to station-by-station allocation of staff. Previously platform and gateline staff tended to be based at a single station, but from now on that'll only be the case at the very largest stations and everyone else will be grouped across a wider area. There'll still be staff on duty at every station, but you won't always see the same familiar faces in the same location, and many stations will have fewer staff on duty than you've been used to.
This is also the day that day-to-day operation of tube stations becomes tablet-based. All frontline staff have now been issued with their very own iPad mini, and from today several processes at FftF stations can only be completed by using it. The new staff uniform has an iPad pocket for slipping the new device away, and staff have to ensure that their device is sufficiently charged at the start of every shift so it doesn't run out of battery. Bespoke apps created by TfL include Ticket Wizard (for sorting out fare-related issues), Station Log (for recording all activity at a station), Ticket Monitoring (for when ticket machines and gates need attention) and Fault Reporting (for recording faults such as damage to escalators and cracked roof tiles).
The aim is for staff to be more visible, more efficient and more customer-facing, and it's simply a by-product of the increased use of technology that fewer staff will be employed overall. You can read a bit more about the new system on this post from February, and a lot more on TfL's bespoke Fit For The Future website where aheckofalot of staff-oriented information has been placed in the public domain. You ought to be able to read a lot more about this across the media, because this is a very important change and will affect everyone's daily customer experience going forward. In the meantime, watch out for staffing and technology changes at your local station from today, because things are no longer being run the way they used to be.