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spikegifted - London - Poor Public Transport

 

Having been living and working in London since 1988, I've developed a love-hate relationship with London's public transport system. For traveling around in Central London, there's usually no better way than public transport - the London Underground ('LU' or the 'Underground' or common known as 'the Tube'), Docklands Light Railway (DLR), buses, River Buses, etc. All these forms of public transport is coordinated and planned at a strategic level by Transport for London (TfL). By far, the most important part of the jigsaw is certainly the London Underground - it carries over 3 million passengers journeys a day, it has over 250 miles of track and serves over 270 stations in and around London.


Click here or on the above map for the full version or here for the full map in PDF format

London has the oldest subterranean railway system in the world and probably one of the largest if not the largest. However, it being oldest and largest does not guarantee being the best. As the result of years, if not decades, of underinvestment and poor management, London Underground is in very poor health - financially and operationally (see Performance indicators). Given the Underground is a vital part of the London's public transport strategy, it is highly alarming. Moreover, since a significant majority of people who live and work in London use the Underground sometime during the day and few people use other forms of public transport exclusively, the operational health of the Underground is doubly important, for if problems arises in there, it will quickly spill out and affect other parts of public transport. However, the Tube is in a poor state. We, the passengers, the traveling public, the customers, are getting a very bad deal. It is when you go to the TfL website for the latest travel update and you are confront by the image below that you understand how bad a deal we are getting...

If the service provided by LU is so bad why don't people use their cars? There are two factors that deter people from driving into Central London for work: the Congestion Charge and the cost of parking. The Congestion Charge is applied daily at a rate of GBP5.00. However it will double if you do not prepay or pay after 10:00PM of the day you enter the Charge Zone and even heavier penalties if you fail to pay before midnight. In a city where any kind of free space is priced at a premium, parking spaces are no different. I've been to a couple of sites (here and here) to find out the cost of renting a parking space in the City of London (the principle financial district of London, where I work) and a typical space costs around GBP45.00 per week or around GBP200.00 per month!! For mere mortals like myself and the Ruler_of_spike, driving into work is simply uneconomical and unrealistic.

Relatively speaking, the traveling public of London is paying more than anyone else in Europe to travel on one of the least efficient network. The level of fares we are asked to pay is beyond reasonable. At the same time, we are getting, what is considered, poor value for money. The history of problems on the London Underground is well documented on many online news sites (This is London, From the Evening Standard and BBC London, to name a couple of better known ones). To add to that, Transport for London actually acknowledges how poor the service offered by London Underground and offers a real time Service Information (which is a list of all the delays and problems in its services) and a real time map on disruptions in the system (a colorful map version instead of text). Additionally, TfL can actually beam the latest disruption it cares to tell you to your cell phone via WAP or SMS.

Personally, I prefer to use the Travel Alerts service, through SMS or e-mail. This is service that alert you of any problems on your chosen route on a daily basis. For each of the route, two messages per day at times of your choice. I have SMS alerts for my regular commute during the weekdays. Lately, I've added a route that covers all the lines of the London Underground system at the peak of the morning and evening rush hours (7:00AM and 6:00PM). The information is sent to me via e-mail every day of the week and I've reproduce them the details in the table below. These are problems that LU is prepare to tell you about and there are less severe problems that are not reported to whatever central control which produce this service.


London Underground - Real Time Travel Alert
(This is not intended as a travel service, instead it is a catalog of incompetence)
Date Morning Evening
Sunday, January 31, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Saturday, January 30, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Friday, January 29, 2010 Central Line: Suspended between Ruislip Gardens and West Ruislip due to a faulty train at West Ruislip. No problems reported
Thursday, January 28, 2010 No problems reported District Line: Suspended between Wimbledon Park and Wimbledon due to a security alert at Wimbledon. Hammersmith & City Line: Minor delays are occurring between Edgware Road and Hammersmith due to non availability of staff.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 No problems reported No problems reported
Tuesday, January 26, 2010 District Line: Minor delays are occurring between Wimbledon and Putney Bridge due to Network Rail power supply problems. Central Line: Minor delays are occurring between North Acton and West Ruislip due to a derailment of an empty train in the depot. Jubilee Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier faulty train at Stratford.
Monday, January 25, 2010 District Line: Severe delays are occurring between Putney Bridge and Wimbledon, with minor delays between Putney Bridge and Earl's Court due to ongoing Network Rail power supply problems. No problems reported
Sunday, January 24, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Saturday, January 23, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Friday, January 22, 2010 District Line: Minor delays are occurring between Parsons Green and Wimbledon due to power supply problems. No problems reported
Thursday, January 21, 2010 Bakerloo Line: Severe delays are occurring due to an earlier signal failure at Queens Park. Central Line: Severe delays are occurring due to an earlier signal failure at Holborn.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010 Jubilee Line: Minor delays are occurring due to a faulty track at Bond Street. Piccadilly Line: Minor delays are occurring due to a signal failure at Arnos Grove.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010 Circle Line: Suspended due to an obstruction on the track at Aldgate. Hammersmith & City Line: Suspended between Whitechapel and Barking, with minor delays on the rest of the line due to an obstruction on the track at Aldgate. District Line: Severe delays are occurring due to an obstruction on the track at Aldgate. Metropolitan Line: Minor delays are occurring between Baker Street and Aldgate due to an obstruction on the track at Aldgate. Piccadilly Line: Severe delays are occurring between Acton Town and Uxbridge in consequence of the disruption. Central Line: Suspended between Liverpool Street and Marble Arch, with minor delays on the rest of the line due to a faulty train at Holborn.
Monday, January 18, 2010 Circle and Hammersmith & City Lines: Severe delays are occurring due to an earlier signal problem at Tower Hill and an obstruction on the track in the Hammersmith area. District Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier signal problem at Tower Hill. Metropolitan Line: Minor delays are occurring on the Watford branch due to a signal failure at North Harrow. Bakerloo Line: Minor delays are occurring due to a signal failure at Waterloo.
Sunday, January 17, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Saturday, January 16, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Friday, January 15, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Thursday, January 14, 2010 Circle, District and Hammersmith & City Lines: Severe delays are occurring due to a signal failure at Aldgate East. Metropolitan Line: Minor delays are occurring between Moor Park and Watford due to a signal failure at Northwood Hills. No problems reported
Wednesday, January 13, 2010 Piccadilly Line: Suspended between Acton Town and Uxbridge due to adverse weather conditions. Minor delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Minor delays are occurring between Acton Town and Uxbridge due to adverse weather conditions. Metropolitan Line: Minor delays are occurring due to a signal failure at Moor Park. District Line: Suspended between Whitechapel and Upminster eastbound due to a person ill on a train at West Ham. Severe delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Hammersmith & City Line: Suspended between Whitechapel and Barking due to a person ill on a train at West Ham.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 Circle Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier signal failure in the Aldgate East area. District Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier customer incident at Hornchurch. Northern Line: Minor delays are occurring between Kennington and Morden due to a signal failure at Stockwell.
Monday, January 11, 2010 Jubilee Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier faulty train at Bond Street. Metropolitan Line: Minor delays are occurring due to adverse weather conditions. Victoria Line: Suspended between Walthamstow Central and King's Cross St Pancras with severe delays on the rest of the line due to a faulty train at Finsbury Park. No problems reported
Sunday, January 10, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Saturday, January 9, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Friday, January 8, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Thursday, January 7, 2010 Central Line: Minor delays are occurring due to lack of available trains. Bakerloo Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier signal failure at Queen's Park. District Line: Minor delays are occurring due to earlier faulty trains. Circle and Metropolitan Lines: Minor delays are occurring due to a faulty track at Kings Cross. Hammersmith & City Line: Suspended between Whitechapel and Barking with severe delays on the rest of the line due to a signal failure at Barking. Central Line: Severe delays are occurring between Marble Arch and West Ruislip/Ealing Broadway due to an earlier faulty train at White City. Minor delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Piccadilly Line: Minor delays are occurring between Acton Town and Heathrow and between Acton Town and Uxbridge due to earlier adverse weather conditions. Jubilee Line: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier faulty train at Willesden Green. Bakerloo Line: Suspended between Stonebridge Park and Harrow & Wealdstone due to a faulty train at North Wembley. Minor delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Central Line: Suspended between North Acton and Ealing Broadway due to a signal failure at Ealing Broadway.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 Piccadilly Line: Suspended between Action Town and Uxbridge due to adverse weather conditions and suspended between Hyde Park Corner and Action Town due to a signalling failure. Metropolitan Line: Minor delays are occurring due to adverse weather conditions. Central Line: Suspended between Leytonstone and Liverpool Street due to a signal failure at Stratford. Severe delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Piccadilly Line: Minor delays are occurring due to adverse weather conditions and a signal failure at Hammersmith. District Line: Suspended between Acton Town and Ealing Broadway due to a signal failure at Ealing Common. Minor delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Piccadilly Line: Suspended between Acton Town and Rayners Lane due to a signal failure at Ealing Common. Minor delays are occurring on the rest of the line. Central Line: Severe delays are occurring due to earlier emergency engineering work at Leyton. Bakerloo Line: Minor delays are occurring between Queen's Park and Harrow & Wealdstone due to adverse weather conditions.
Tuesday, January 5, 2010 Central Line: Minor delays due to an earlier faulty train at Woodford. Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines: Minor delays are occurring due to an earlier customer incident at Euston Square. Northern Line: Suspended between East Finchley and Camden Town due to a person under a train at Archway. Minor delays are occurring on the rest of the High Barnet branch.
Monday, January 4, 2010 Waterloo & City Line: Suspended due to a local power failure. District Line: Severe delays are occurring due to signal failures at Bromley-by-Bow and Putney Bridge. Hammersmith & City Line: Severe delays are occurring between Barking and Whitechapel and minor delays are occurring on the rest of the line due to an earlier signal failure at Bromley-by-Bow. Circle Line: Minor delays are occurring due to a signal failure at Putney Bridge and an earlier signal failure at Bromley by Bow. Central Line: Minor delays are occurring eastbound only due to a faulty train at Chancery Lane.
Sunday, January 3, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Saturday, January 2, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded
Friday, January 1, 2010 Not recorded Not recorded

 

Past incompetence...
      Q4 2003
Q1 2004 Q2 2004 Q3 2004 Q4 2004
Q1 2005 Q2 2005 Q3 2005 Q4 2005
Q1 2006 Q2 2006 Q3 2006 Q4 2006
Q1 2007 Q2 2007 Q3 2007 Q4 2007
Q1 2008 Q2 2008 Q3 2008 Q4 2008
Q1 2009 Q2 2009 Q3 2009 Q4 2009


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