A strange thing has happened at Bromley-by-Bow station.
The ticket machines have stopped accepting cash...
...which, OK, sometimes happens. What's odd is that TfL have no intention of repairing them until April.
Three months is a long time for the people of Bromley-by-Bow to be without means of paying for their travel by cash. Sure you could always use contactless or top up your Pay As You Go online, just as the noticeboard alongside the machines suggests, or even download the new PAYG app and add credit that way. But this isn't about you, it's about people who pay for their tube travel by cash. The community surrounding Bromley-by-Bow isn't especially affluent, so is likely to contain more cash-topper-uppers than most.
Bromley-by-Bow's ticket hall very rarely contains a member of staff, so customers must make do with advice in written form. Scrappy stickers have been attached to the ticket machines warning that notes and coins are not accepted. The two nearest Oyster Ticket Stops have been listed on a board alongside, although neither is especially close. Someone has printed out a Google map for each and drawn a line in pen showing how to get there, then stuck these up alongside the machine with sellotape. It shows initiative, but for a problem which started ten days ago and is due to continue for ten more weeks, it's not especially professional.
The reason for this lengthy cash-free hiatus isn't clear. Perhaps the issue affecting both machines is really serious and can't be fixed until something arrives in three months time. Perhaps new ticket machines are due in April and there's no point wasting money on updating the current ones right now. Perhaps there's no money for repairs in TfL's budget until the new financial year kicks off. Whatever the reason, I've never seen "No cash payments for tickets. Please use the nearest Oyster ticket stop or top-up/buy season tickets online" in TfL's Station closures six months look ahead list before, so it must be serious.
The ongoing redevelopment of the ticket hall might also be a contributory factor. This small space has been undergoing renovation works for the last three years, including the widening of the gateline, new interior tiling, fresh brick-effect cladding and a smart new glass roof, but nobody has ever quite got round to finishing it off.
It's supposed to look like this...
...but instead it looks like this (and hasn't changed from looking like this for the last six months).
Step-free access was finally introduced last March, which is great, but since then the contractors appear to have given up and gone away. Scaffolding poles remain around the edge of the new glass lantern. The blue hoardings covering the unfinished spaces to either side of the entrance have not yet been removed. Strings of temporary lights thread overhead. A host of building materials lie dormant under the westbound staircase. "Reconfiguration of ticket hall including improved revenue generating opportunities" has not occurred. "Enhanced ambience through the renewal of ticket hall finishes" is not complete.
One day it'll look great, a welcoming beacon on the busy A12 to service the increasing population moving into hundreds of new flats beyond the dual carriageway. But for now it's just a building site in stasis, its ticket hall invariably unstaffed and with ticket machines that don't take notes or coins. Don't forget to top up in the newsagents down the road before you arrive. Or just stroll through the barriers without paying, they're usually left open, at The Station TfL Forgot.
Sunday evening update: An employee writes... "The reason for the no cash option is that contractors are working on the station including the area where the cash is sorted/bagged/collected, so for security reasons that's been stopped until the refurbishment is complete."
Wednesday update: The sign in the ticket hall has been updated.
This may not be the whole story.
October update: "The programme to complete works at Bromley-by-Bow, where a new step-free lift is now in service, has been extended into this year to remove asbestos and the need to replace the roof which was not part of the original scope."