Over the last couple of weeks or so, the millions of people who use London’s Underground network can be forgiven for having to navigating around a system that seems to be on the verge of a collective nervous breakdown.
During this current period, travellers on what locals call the Tube have had to put up with delays, breakdowns, signal failures and strikes, culminating in staffing shortages leading to station closures. Transport for London, the organisation responsible, is failing to deliver a basic service to the capital.
London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, is rightly being blamed for not setting TfL to task for these current problems. But he can only take a small part of the responsibility for them. The previous Labour chancellor Gordon Brown imposed a private-finance solution to maintain the network in order to stop former incumbent Ken Livingstone from getting his hands on it.
As a result, travelling on the Tube is becoming an increasingly awful experience. Staffing and spending cutbacks have seen trains poorly cleaned, half-ripped seats not replaced and graffiti not removed. Much-needed upgrades to signalling and refurbishment and replacement of trains and platforms are either delayed or cancelled altogether. It must be frustrating that they cannot deliver a clean and safe transport system, but are currently waisting money on a pilot scheme in which anybody can make phone calls at stations.
In the summer of 2012, travellers need to be able to use the Tube safely and quickly to get to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford for the Games. How on earth can they be able to get there on time if they have to face problems like those at present?
If you are considering coming to London for the Olympics, don’t bother… it isn’t worth the hassle. You’d be better off staying at home and watching the Games on TV.