Monday, 24 October 2011

Will Boris Johnson break his ticket offices promise?

Asked last year about his plans to close a number of ticket offices across London, Boris Johnson's spokesperson told me that:

"This Mayor takes his promises to Londoners extremely seriously. Every station that has a ticket office will continue to have one.”

The Mayor himself went even further telling the London Assembly that:

"The first and most important point to make is that no ticket offices will be closed, alright? They're not going to be closed... 

Pushed on this point he went on to say that:

"The answer to the number of ticket office closures is: nil."

However it turns out that the real answer to the number of ticket office closures could be: all of them.

According to detailed London Underground plans seen by this blog, all ticket offices could be closed by 2016 with "up to 30" of them being being converted to "Travel Information Centres."

1500 members of staff will also be let go with all tube trains being made driverless by the 2020s.

Bob Crow, RMT General Secretary, said today:

“This document tells us everything we need to know about the operational strategy of London Underground - massive increase in fares alongside an unprecedented attack on jobs and safety. Every single ticket office would be closed, stations left unstaffed and drivers would be thrown out of their cabs without a single thought for passenger safety."

In Boris Johnson's 2008 transport manifesto he pledged to: "defend local ticket offices" and "stop the planned ticket office closures" adding that "there is little financial, strategic or common sense in these closures."

Today TfL insisted that the document had merely been prepared to "stimulate fresh thinking" and that nothing had yet been agreed by the Mayor.

However, the lack of any denials from City Hall, and the sheer detail of the plans, suggests that Boris's "extremely serious" promises to Londoners, may not have been quite so serious after all.

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