Why is London public transport one of the worst in the first world?

Victoria station had chicken wire holding up the ceiling for at least 10 years, maybe longer. Chicken wire (!). The other stations were not much better. London is supposed to be the capital of the world and the world’s leading financial centre… and here we are with chicken wire holding up ceilings.

Add to this the laundry list of problems such as cancelled trains, delayed trains, overcrowding, trains too small, not enough trains, drivers don’t show up to work, platforms too short, signal failures and so on and you see something that belongs in a dystopian nightmare. any yet here we are, in what is supposed to be a first world city.

This is bad but more importantly, why is nothing done about it? Why is all this ‘ok’?

We think the reason is that TFL can get away with it. There is (as far as we can see) simply no culture of accountability in TFL, at least not to the average customer. If the train is late and you miss a shift, a meeting, a plane do you get compensated? No. At best you can apply for a refund of a couple of quid. There are no real consequences for TFL and hence they have absolute power. And we know how that goes: Absolute power corrupts absolutely. TFL can’t be sued by you and me (really), so they can’t be fired, so they can do what they like. Which, as far as we can tell, is very little.

But why is nobody noticing this?

Enter Brexit.

For the last few years Britain has been consumed by Brexit and this is great if you are an incompetent company providing an essential public service. Why? What do they say about a day with a big event that everyone focuses on? It’s a good day to bury bad news. Well, TFL decided (it seems) that with everyone focussing on Brexit they can do even worse of a job than usual and none of the press will notice.

No matter how you look at it, the service that TFL offers is third world. If Britain is to have any chance in this uncertain future it is going to have to have a world class transport system and at the moment (and for years) it has one of the worst (and most expensive).

Why is it so bad?

While some may not like this, it’s true. Usually it comes down to the people that are hired or the lack of training. Sure, there will be exceptions but in the main, if there is appalling service, it is going to be down to the quality of the average employee. This is not just TFL but any company. Good or bad service is delivered by the people that work for a company, not the company itself. so we need to be honest about that. TFL either got the hiring wrong or are incredibly bad at training (or both). But how do you fix that in a unionised system like TFL. We don’t know. How do you unscramble an egg?

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