One in four oyster ‘fines’ are incorrect

28 02 2011

Just a short blog to highlight my story in the story in the Standard today.

The key point for me is that one in four people who fail to swipe in or out properly on the Tube, railways, DLR or London Overground are given a penalty of a maximum daily fare but are then given it back because it was an error.

The system either automatically gives it back to them  or the customer is forced to complain and request a refund.

This raises a lot of questions about Oyster and whether the system is getting overstretched by the extension to the railways and the complicated fares that can bring forward.

TfL say they are improving the situation and demanding that rail companies put in gates at all stations to seal up the system, but nevertheless one in four fines being mistakes is a big issue and affects at least 3.6 million Londoners every year.


Pressure on Boris to give the gift of free travel to Tube sufferers

10 02 2011

At this morning’s budget debate at City Hall Boris Johnson was pressed again on the poor reliability on many Tube lines in recent months and weeks, and he again said he was “frustrated” about it all but claimed it was improving.

Also interestingly he did not deny blasting Peter Hendy on the phone last week because it had all gone to pot again.

In particular, there was a plea to improve life for the long-suffering people who have been stuck using the Jubilee Line  with all its delays and closures.

As a result of years of misery there, I know that he is currently being put under pressure to give them a day of free travel to recognise the disruption they have suffered.

Opposition politicians at City Hall say travellers deserve the gift because the line’s signalling upgrade is 18-months late and its stations have closed on more than 100 weekends since 2007.

They have asked that the Mayor repeat what happened on the East London Line’s opening day last year, where thousands enjoyed free travel along the route, or hand out free travelcards to commuters at Jubilee Line stations.

Mr Johnson says he wants to reward people because of the “highly disruptive” delays and that Transport for London is considering what to do when the Jubilee Line’s upgrade is completed this Spring.

But he has also admitted that he considers a day of free travel would probably be too expensive in the current financial climate.

Leader of City Hall’s Liberal Democrats Caroline Pidgeon insists that Boris Johnson should try to find the cash to recognise how much communities along the Jubilee Line have suffered.

“Given the immense disruption Jubilee Line passengers have suffered the Mayor must properly thank them for putting up with so much,” she told me.

“Regular users of the Jubilee Line deserve a few days free travel, but if the Mayor won’t fund this then he needs to come up with alternative proposals to celebrate the line operating properly again and to thank passengers for their patience.”

A series of delays and problems means the improvements on the Jubilee Line will finish 18 months later than promised this April-ish.

To speed the process Boris Johnson and London Underground stepped in last year to buy Tube Lines, who they blamed for the delays, at a cost of more than £300 million.

Because of the lessons learned from the disruption on the Jubilee Line, Tube bosses have decided to upgrade the Northern Line while imposing a ban on weekend and early evening closures.

“Both London Underground (LU) and I fully appreciate that Tube Lines’ lengthy programme to upgrade the Jubilee line has been highly disruptive to London,” Mr Johnson said in a new written response.

“In recognition of that, LU is investigating the most appropriate way to mark the completion of this major piece of work. Of course, the real benefit to users of the line will come in the form of more frequent trains, faster journeys and increased capacity that the upgrade will eventually deliver.

“Bearing in mind the cost incurred by LU in resolving the serious failings in the Tube Lines approach and the importance of prioritising the investment needed for the vital upgrade of the Tube, my initial reaction is that I could not justify such a costly concession.

“The opening of the East London line was slightly different in that it offered TfL the chance to attract new customers to what was effectively a brand new railway, showcasing the new stations, reopened stations and connections that can now be made to new areas of east London.”

Credit cards instead of Oyster and more.

2 12 2010

My story on this has been cut back, just like Southeastern’s service, because of the weather chaos chaos chaos, but it is still a good one.

Here it is in the Standard:

Anyway, apart from the topline, all this also links  in with the industrial action we are all dealing with.

Because the Mayor also says that new improved ticket machines will be rolled out in London’s stations from 2011, including ones that will vend oyster cards and a wider range of tickets.

Less need for staff and ticket offices you see.

“Further updates from early 2011 onwards will provide increased functionality on London Underground’s ‘Advanced Fare Machines’ (AFMs), allowing staff to assist customers with a range of Oyster card services that can currently only be provided at a ticket office,” he said.

“London Underground is also planning to enable the vending of Oyster cards from AFMs across the network starting in mid-2011.

“In late 2011, LU will install 40 new AFMs at stations where demand dictates.”

These changes mean Transport for London is closer to getting rid of cash tickets, which they believe will benefit the travelling public with lower costs.

But critics say that it proves that most ticket offices on the Tube network are doomed, a dispute which has caused disruptive strikes in London over recent months.

The Mayor is proposing that opening hours be cut at nine out of ten ticket offices as staff would be better used helping travellers at gates or on platforms.

A 24-hour strike – the fourth – went ahead on Sunday, in protest over 800 job cuts to station staff.

The unions have refused to rule out further stoppages, in fact they want bigger ones.

London Assembly Liberal Democrat Leader Caroline Pidgeon says that there will be a gap in service as ticket offices have opening hours cut and new technology is rolled out.

“The slow and limited changes to self-service ticket machines reveal just how misguided it is for the Mayor to immediately slash the opening hours at 90% of ticket offices across London,” she said.

“There are many  people whose specific needs are not served by ticket machines.  Moreover even when the upgrades are finally completed the ticket machines will continue to have many deficiencies, such as not being able to provide extensions to people who have a season ticket.

“Advances in ticket technology are of course welcome, yet it is clear that the savage reduction in ticket office opening hours will take place long before the improvements have been rolled out.”

Peter Hendy rants while Boris has a panic.

4 11 2010

There has been long-running criticism of Boris because he is now choosing to ‘close’ loads of the ticket offices that he previously campaigned to keep open. Fair enough.

But the only interesting thing that came from this morning’s  TfL board meeting was that Peter Hendy was loving giving the unions a right kicking and he wants those ticket office ‘closures’ sorted asap.

Made more interesting because after a confident rant on this by Peter, Boris took over and sounded right panicky.

The board said they were trying not to discuss the strike to ensure a resolution, but good old Peter couldn’t help but say that the unions were just proving his point….

In fact he suggested the strikers had lost the case against reducing the opening hours at nine out of ten ticket offices because so many commuters were able to get to work yesterday without them. Not sure he is quite right.

Not sure this attitude will help stop the strike on November 29 and over Christmas either.

“I think the headlines are that we ran about 50 per cent of the service and opened about 75 per cent of the stations and we carried about 50 per cent of our usual passengers,” Mr Hendy said.

“Whilst I won’t make too much of that, the really interesting thing is that of course most of the ticket offices were closed so the proportion of passengers using ticket machines was extremely high. Only 6,000 tickets were sold in ticket offices yesterday.

“I’m not drawing any further conclusions than that, but, it does seem possible that a lot of people can use this system without being sold any tickets.

“There is a meeting at ACAS today. We sincerely hope that will enable us to move forward without any further disputes.”

Boris Johnson started talking the millisecond that Peter stopped and repeated over and over that there would be no compulsory redundancies and that nothing was shutting at all ever.

He sounded like Jimmy Two-times off Goodfellas.

He also said: “My thanks and congratulations to all London Underground staff who did turn up and did enable such a large number of people to get to work despite the grave difficulties the network sustained because of the strike.”

I tried to speak to him after the meeting but he said he had to run for it because I think, let’s be honest, he’d rather keep a low profile at the moment. Don’t blame him because I was only going to ask him about Cameron anyway.