For disabled travellers, the loss of tube staff gives reason to worry

It doesn't matter where they are, but having someone to help is vital

Share
Related Topics

So it’s goodbye to the tube ticket office. Well at least by 2015.

Transport for London has been very clever about how it has handled the news.

The phasing out of ticket offices was announced alongside a promise of 24 hour tubes at weekends on some lines, the provision disabled access at another 27 stations (about time) plus wi fi coverage at all below ground stations. 

That’s a lot of sugar to help the nasty medicine of 950 job cuts to go down, although thanks to the “night tube” there will also be 200 new hires.

Unsurprisingly the RMT union is quite cross and predictably there are now rumblings of strikes in the run up to Christmas. 

Which might well end up further pushing the public into the TFL camp, given the pain and disruption these cause to the travelling public.  

Some more evolved tactics would be welcome, but we’re not likely to get them any time soon.

Does that mean game set and match to TFL?

It’s true that the raison d’être of the ticket office has faded away as a result of the undoubted success of the Oyster card. The machines used to buy and top these up are quicker, more efficient, and better suited to handling the numbers the tube is dealing with today than a ticket office. You can even add money online if you want, although that means registering your card. 

But the machines aren’t perfect. Sometimes they’re out of order, sometimes you might need assistance, particularly if you are a visitor to the capital either from abroad or elsewhere in Britain. TFL says that less than three per cent of all Tube journeys involve a visit to a ticket office. Which doesn’t sound like much. Except that there are millions of journeys on the tube, and so that still adds up to an awful lot of visits. I suspect most of those visits will have been made because the people making them needed help.

Ah but wait, says TFL, there will still be staff at stations. They’ll be floating around with iPads. Happy to help! 

We’ll see. With budget cuts looming, you can see the direction of travel, and it is potentially a worrying one. How long before the decision is taken to rationalise further by stopping more lightly used stations from being staffed at all?

As a disabled traveller, it doesn’t much matter whether staff are in the ticket office, or wandering around with an iPad in their hands. I just need someone there to provide assistance. There are some genuinely lovely people in those blue uniforms who go out of their way to help. They were particularly visible during the Paralmpics (funny that) but are rather harder to find now. 

I’d like to use the tube more often but when you are described as a health and safety risk, it tends to put you off. 

I was trying to manage crutches and a wheelchair on a platform and was in that position because I’d been treated with an astonishing lack of courtesy and even had my fitness to travel questioned by a staffer who didn’t want to help (l’d suffered some shooting pains at the station, unpleasant but mercifully transient). 

That was a particularly bad incident, and I stress, it is not at all reflective of all tube staff.

However, it is also not the first time that I’ve endured the “are you sure you’re well enough to travel” line either.

And when staff act like that, stations might just as well be un-manned. 

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition