'Hi folks! This is the Mayor here' - Boris is silenced as TFL pull Tube announcements


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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson’s disembodied voice was first heard booming around train stations and on buses in the capital in the run-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games in a bid to warn commuters about the impending travel chaos.

Out of nowhere, Mr Johnson would apparently sneak up on commuters and warn them not to “get caught out”. But the tannoy announcements - which provoked what can be described as a mixed response - have been pulled, Transport for London (TfL) has announced.

Traffic has not been as bad as was feared in the first few days of the Games and London’s transport system has stood up to the test. Further than that, fears have even been expressed that “scaremongering” about how crowded the city – and its transport networks – would be before the Games began has been keeping people away from central London. Workers are reportedly favouring working from home and visitors refusing to brave travelling into the city centre.

But a TfL spokesman said the announcements were only designed to help get the city through this Monday, which - as the first day on which commuters and Games spectators would mix - transport chiefs anticipated would be the city's “first major test”.

The expected transport D-Day came and went without major incident. Many Olympics Games Lanes - reserved for London 2012 VIPs – were even reopened to the public earlier this week after it emerged they were not needed. The transport system has been so quiet that London’s West End is expecting a drop in revenues as customers stay away.

But it is not out of the woods yet. As many as 100,000 people using London Bridge station - a Games “hotspot” - faced major disruption after signalling problems saw their journeys take hours longer than usual getting home last night.

They were warned there could be more problems getting home again tonight if engineers are unable to repair the fault in time for the evening peak.

The TfL spokesman said: “The Mayor's Tube messages were designed by TfL for the run-up to the Games, as one way of informing people about the possibility of increased demand across the network. We had always planned to stop playing them once we were through the first major test on Monday, when commuters and Olympic spectators were travelling the network together for the first time.

“The fact that people have been sensible, looked at the advice, listened to the announcements and planned ahead is good news. It's allowed TfL to keep London moving.

“We will provide operational messages, tailored to individual stations and events happening on the day to help Londoners and spectators get around. People should continue to plan ahead to avoid the travel hotspots by visiting GetAheadOfTheGames.com

“We have always made clear that London is open for business and we want people to come to London and make the most of all the Games have to offer.  Our messages across all channels have always reflected that.”

Boris loses his zip...

London Mayor Boris Johnson also became a talking point today on the social networking site Twitter after he became stuck on a zip wire whilst visiting a BT London Live event at Victoria Park. Pictures posted to the micro-blogging site showed Mr Johnson hanging from a harness while waving flags - there were unconfirmed reports he had become stuck.