diamond geezer

 Saturday, February 12, 2011

Of all the cuts to tube station ticket office hours, I don't think any station's been hit worse than Bromley-by-Bow. Three stations at the other end of the District line come close (Chiswick Park, Stamford Brook and Ravenscourt Park), but my local station's had the biggest slash of all.

Previously Bromley-by-Bow ticket office was open for eleven hours each Sunday. Now it's not even open for eleven hours each week. That's drastic, that is.

Last week, Bromley-by-Bow ticket office opening hours looked like this.
Monday to FridaySaturdaySunday

And now they look like this.
Mon-Fri 0800-0930; Sat 1100-1200; Sun 1245-1315

Formerly the ticket office was open for 13 hours each weekday. Now it's one and a half, in the morning peak only. Formerly the ticket office was open for eight hours on a Saturday. Now it's a single non-peak hour, late-morning. As for Sundays, the cut is ridiculous. From 11 hours down to a pathetic 30 minutes over lunch, which is the shortest non-zero opening time of any tube station in London. A grand total of 84 hours last week, cut to nine now. I know Oyster card usage is supposed to have reduced the need for staff to sit behind a window, but surely not far enough to justify this 89% chop.

It wouldn't be so bad if staff had been freed up to wander the station and help passengers, but I don't see them. There's no obvious customer service at all, at least not when I've been around. Bromley-by-Bow's ticket hall isn't exactly an enticing place to stand all day, I guess, neither is there one of those glass boxes by the gateline for staff to lurk in. Even for passengers having trouble with the ticket machine the only human nearby is the bloke in the newspaper kiosk... except he has a big angry notice saying "no change given", so don't ask.

TfL claim that all their tube stations are staffed at all times, but I find that hard to believe at Bromley-by-Bow. I regularly pass through this station after nine in the evening, and I don't think I've seen a member of staff for the last year. Instead the ticket hall is empty, the gates are wide open, and there's a message scrawled on the wall urging passengers to swipe their Oyster card as they pass or pay the penalty. No friendly soul in blue uniform protects the late-night travellers of E3 from misbehaviour, crime or worse. If Bromley-by-Bow station is indeed staffed all the time, then that member of staff must be bloody well hidden.

It seems that Bromley-by-Bow's gradually being turned into a clone of the DLR station down the road. No obvious member of staff on duty, no functioning gateline, and as for a ticket office don't make me laugh. Most passengers can cope just fine in a staff-free station, of course, and tens of thousands of pounds in wages can be saved. But when your local tube station's the next to follow down this route, don't say you weren't warned.

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