Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Are You Satisfied with Public Transport in London?

Transport for London' have now published their most recent customer satisfaction survey. Here's a summary of what it found.

Docklands Light Railway. Passengers on the DLR were far and above the most satisfied, giving it an overall rating of 92 per cent. Boris has delayed any further expansion to Dagenham Dock.

Dial-a-Ride. People using London's assisted travel scheme were the next most satisfied, rating the service at 88 per cent. Not everyone in London seems to agree with that.

River Services. Andrew Gilligan's only means of travel is next up scoring an impressive 87 per cent. Tory Assembly members love it and Boris agrees. He now plans to Oysterise it.

Croydon Trams.  Trams remain popular with Londoners scoring a respectable 86 per cent. Again, Boris has abandoned another planned expansion.

Taxis. London's cabs are also relatively popular at 85 per cent. More action of the kind we saw this week probably won't help that much.

London Minicabs. Private hire vehicles are creeping up behind them on 81 per cent. Boris has now given them a seat on the Tfl board.

London Buses. Of the big three, buses still marginally come out on top, maintaining an 80 per cent satisfaction rating. How will Boris's policies affect that?

London Underground. Some people love it, but many others avoid it all costs, putting the satisfaction rating at just 79 per cent.

London Overground. Last and definitely least is London Overground which continues to frustrate us at just 72 per cent. Will Boris's (non) emergency summit do much to help?

So are you satisfied? Does this tally with your own experience of London Transport and is Boris right to prioritise the areas that he has? What do you think?


Letters From A Tory said...

After last week's debacle, now probably isn't a good time to ask if people are satisfied with TfL!

AdamB said...

What are you talking about LfaT? Boris's masterful handling of municipal emergencies and employee relations has made it stronger than ever!

Helen said...

Wot no pedestrians?

AdamB said...


Bryan said...

I would say that passengers are only more satisfied with the DLR and the riverboats because they're still relatively new and are not used that often. They've still got the novelty factor and people don't have a lifetime of delayed journeys to look back on.

AdamB said...

I would agree with you about the river service Bryan, but there are plenty of people in my part of London for whom the DLR is one of if not the main means of travel. It's main routes are into the City so it's not really for tourists as such. It's just good to use.

Mark Lee said...

I think people do habitually moan about public transport (it's the British way), but on the whole it's generally pretty good. Try using transport in any other city, and you generally find yourself thinking "Actually, London's not too shabby"

It will be interesting to see how Boris's policies affect the ratings in the long term...

Chris said...

So Andrew Gilligan hasn't used a train or bus for years?! There goes the Evening Standard's transport expert!

Jujupiter said...

79% for the Underground? Are you kidding me?! The Tube is way too expensive for what it is.

AdamB said...

Well Boris hasn't helped much there. I usually try to walk or get a bus if I can.

Tom said...

The tube in the suburbs is a bargain, although less of a bargain at £1.10 than it was at a quid. Into town it does sting the Oyster a bit, although the new off-peak fares are worth looking at if you need to get in during the day.

Overground is solely London Overground, not national rail. That's just the Richmond-Stratford, Watford-Euston, Gospel Oak-Barkin and Clapham Junction-Willesden Junction routes.

These only became TfL operations in November 2007 and immediately saw an upsurge in ridership, which led to overcrowding, plus the trains are crap and unsuitable to the route now. The new trains and four-carriage extensions will help, but there's a lot of disruption to get through first.

DLR is 22 years old, with extensions at periodic intervals since, so some of it is still new but the core is quite well established now. It's an integrated part of the transport system, so holding up that well is a good sign, considering recent issues. It also scores highest on safety and security surveys.

TfL also have a puff piece up about Tramlink, which is a little embarrassing considering it's not going to get the relatively minor but useful Crystal Palace extension.

AdamB said...

Unfortunately there's no tube in my particular suburb (apart from the Jubilee line touching the top of the Greenwich Peninsula) so it's usually only really an option for me once I get into the centre, by which point I've already given over a fiver to Connex for a 15 minute journey.

Helen said...

Velib news: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7881079.stm?lss

AdamB said...


Rog T said...

Mark Lee,

What a load of cobblers. 50 years ago, London was a shining example of civic. The sad truth is that it's been criminally neglected since then. I lived in Stockholm for a while and people would pace up & down if a train was 2 minutes late. Moscow has a fantastic system as well. I suspect that your experiences are not based on living in Modern European cities.

There are schemes that are complete no brainers such as Cross River Tram, Brent Cross Railway etc and what do the Tory Mayor and Tory Barnet Council do - Absolutely nothing.

As for the DLR, if the Thatcher Government had done a proper job, that would be properly integrated with the rest of the network into central London. How you could build a terminus with no easy tube link - Tower Hill is complete madness.

Then there is the Thameslink program. This was called Thameslink 2000 until we got to 2007. Never mind, should be ready for 2015. Ken proposed the scheme in 1985 or so. Thatcher & Major scuppered it, even though it was dirt cheap, as they did with Crossrail.

No matter how rubbish Blair & Brown have been, at least there has been some action. Thatcher built nothing. Major's idea of a sensible transport policy was to privatise BR. That worked well.

The only Tory policies are completely regressive. I suspect that the only reason they've stuck with the entral congestion zone is to allow Brian Coleman and his mates to be driven from free lunch to free dinner in taxi's without too much delay from us plebs.

Tom said...

"50 years ago, London was a shining example of civic"

Bet? Bit further back than that, by 50 years ago we were in the grip of the highwaymen - Cromwell Road Extension/Chiswick Flyover was around then. Meanwhile National Rail was static and the Underground was desperately in need of investment - we should have built about one tube line per decade since the war, but only got two plus the DLR in 50 years. Christian Wolmar suggests the heyday was immediately pre-war, and since then it took until 2000 for both power and competence to coincide again.

You forgot, in your otherwise excellent frothing round up of why you shouldn't let Conservatives get their hands on transport policy, the original GLC. This was set up (against Labour opposition) without any responsibiliy for public transport. Therefore the only transport people they employed were road engineers, and amazingly enough almost on GLC Day One there was a fully fledged plan to strangle the city with urban motorways. For about twenty years from the late 1940s this was the only plan on the table important enough to be considered by those in power, so it's not surprising we lost sight of what was actually important.

Labour put London Transport into GLC control in the late 60s and opposition from various residents and road protester groups operating via the Labour Party in the early 1970s won power via the GLC and killed the full scheme, although there was an effort under Thatcher to reanimate them, which petered out with the 1990s recession, when it does have to be said that Cecil Parkinson briefly talked sense, although they didn't follow through - things like JLE, Marylebone resignalling and the original Crossrail plans dated from then.

I've got a side bet with myself that someone in Team Boris will get the plans out again, but so far he's actually killed one of the three remaining bits of the scheme in the Thames Gateway Bridge, and the other two he's kept but they were thoroughly Livingstoned (as wast he TGB, if truth be told - remember Oxleas Wood?). These are the A406 Ealing Bridges and the A406 Bounds Green dualling schemes, both of which were scheduled to be six lane motorways in living memory (1980s/1990s). Boris actually approved the Bounds Green one within days of coming in, roughly at the same time as canning Parliament Square.

angelneptunestar said...

River travel is amazing.... beautiful views of London and comfortable seats.

London cabbies and care hire firms also score highly with me, you get their pithy political views if you strike up a conversation and they are all 99% efficient and helpful.

My local buses, the 24, the 46 and the 168 are pretty good. Usually on time, and the drivers are friendly. The local No. 29 bendy bus is checked very regularly by inspectors, to make sure that everyone has a ticket. I have never liked the tube. All in all, I have very few complaints about my London travel.

Tom said...

Angela, you must live in the Hampstead-Camden area and therefore your need for river transport must be fairly remote, as it is for most of us. Although I'm certainly not opposed to greater use of the river, it's only really an option on a couple of stretches (and I live really near the river, too).

Do you ever take the Overground, though?

Rog T said...

Tom, I guess the point at which public Transport in London was put on the back burner was September 3rd 1939. WW2 stopped a few schemes in their tracks. After the war we were skint and things like the NHS became priorities. From 1951 we had a long period of Tory rule, where roads were most definately the priority. I think that building a motorway network was a good thing on balance, but the neglect of public transport most certainly wasn't.

I think that the one thing which is blindingly obvious is that the post war Conservative party is rabidly anti public transport. As a Londoner this means that they are rabidly anti London as most Londoners use public transport. The BorisBus is a typical Tory policy. They pick on a single issue and flog it to death (probably to abandon when no one is looking). If it was being launched as part of a reinvigorated transport strategy, then maybe we could view it as progressive.

It really never occurs to these numpties to look at a map of traffic hotspots and then try and devise a public transport solution to fix it. For example, take the North/South Circular. There isn't an equivalent rail line. We have the North London Line, but how many rail/tube lines does that cross with no easy (& dry when it is raining) interchange. It amazes me that there is no thought given to this. Take West Hampstead. There are 4 rail/tube lines there. There are three different stations with a big walk between them. One line doesn't even stop. How hard is it to see what's wrong?

Another example - St Pancras Thameslink. A brand new station with a 7 minute walk to the tube. It's all been done to save a couple of million quid on something which will be an assett for a hundred years. Mind you, I suspect that the Tories wouldn't even have bothered to rebuild St Pancras. I suspect they'd rather shut the Channel tunnel and pretend Europe didn't exist.

Another example of Tory stupidty to Transport policy - The Heathrow transport hub - high speed rail links. Don't they ever drive to Heathrow on the M4. If it was a hub, there would be even more car journeys to pick up trains as well. It's already a bottleneck. I'm all for a high speed link to the north, but from Heathrow? It needs good local access and a spur to the main network. With their plans they'll transform the M25 into a car park. They'd be far better having a high speed link from Reading with flight check in facilities on the train. That would take cars off the M4.

In short, if you want to know if a transport scheme is stupid, just check to see whether a Tory wrote it

Tom said...

The St. Pancras/Tube issue gets *slightly* better when the Northern Ticket Hall opens next year, since the main tube entrance will then be pretty much between the KX suburban station and the Eurostar check-in.

There's the other silly Tory ideas where they assume that any scheme rejected by Labour as being silly is therefore worthy of study. Clue: it may actually be silly.

The converse is that any scheme *supported* by Labour must therefore be devoid of merit. This is also wrong.

Mark Lee said...

Hmm, didn't mean to start quite such a row. You're absolutely right Rog that compared to global cities, parts of London's transport network are left in the dust. But you do have to cherry pick a bit; Delhi has a wonderful metro, as is DC's, which runs until 3am at the weekends, (despite only being twin-tracked), but try getting a bus in either city and you'll struggle. No personal experience with Stockholm or Moscow, but in European cities such as Paris and Berlin, I've found the metro to be functional but pretty crowded and dirty.

I'm not a Tory apologist by any stretch of the imagination (read my other comments here if you have any doubts) - my comment is simply that for all people's grumbles, public transport in London is not that bad. It gets people from A to B reasonably efficiently with pretty good coverage. Yes, it could be better, it could be less crowded, but it tends to do what it says on the tin. I have gripes (it would be nice to not be squashed against a tube door on the Northern Line in the morning), but in all honesty I'd say that I'm pretty satisfied on the whole as:

- I always get on the first train in the morning
- The trains are always frequent
- I can always get to where I want to go, even if one mode of transport (e.g. tube) is stuffed.

As for cost - try getting the bus anywhere else in this country. I was charged £1.60 for a four stop journey in Bristol recently. Which included a five minute wait at each stop en route whilst people fished in their pockets for change.

Grumble if you wish, but for all its sins, transport in London is massively better than any other city in the UK. It's just a shame that Boris seems to have no ambition to sustain the investment that's been going in over recent years.

Rog T said...

Mark Lee,

Depends what the journey is. I live in Mill Hill NW7. If I want to get to Central london, great (if crowded). When they shut Edgware General Hospital, our local Hospital became Barnet General. 15 minutes by car. Over an hour by bus each way. Had a girlfriend lived in Muswell Hill. 15 mins in car, nearly impossible by public transport.

Getting into London - OK, getting around London - nightmare

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