Article about Mayor Ken Livingstones handling of the fall of MetroNet and strike action
|By Robert Clarke
Today thousands of passengers have been left stranded after TFL (transport for London) and Metronet were unable to reach agreements over staff being transferred to the new contractor with no losses of staff and their benefit packages such as pensions.
Mayor Ken Livingstone promised to provide more buses, which he has done, however this has actually been the cause of further delays, as these extra buses have been making congestion around London worse than ever, and TFL have responded to this by stopping buses that were late from continuing their full journey, for example the bus I was travelling on was the number 7 that would usually pay a visit to Acton, this bus so full of passengers all eager to see the sights and sounds of sunny Acton were very disappointed when they were told it would only go as far as Chepstow Road which is between Bayswater and Notting Hill Gate, so this bus full of people and I mean full, not even standing room only had to disembark and wait for 25 minutes for the next bus to come along.
How does this help the situation, yes that bus was late, so under normal circumstances TFL would be in the position to back themselves up by canceling that bus, after all another should be along in 8-12 minutes as the bus stop informs us, but this week is not normal, we have more buses on the road so buses are bound to be delayed as there is the increased congestion, but why make around 50 people even later than they already were by telling them to get off and wait even longer to get home.
This strike has been on the cards for several weeks now and any planner at TFL HQ could have worked a scheme that would see passengers not being delayed as much, I can understand that planning cannot be done if there is flash floods or terrorism to the lines but when you have time, surely they could have offered drivers overtime and put several services on that went from tube station to tube station on route, we could aleiviate overcrowding by only letting on commuters as they have to be somewhere and do not have a whole day to stand and wait, other commuters could also take buses which is what TFL have advised. This is something that I’m sure will let Mr. Livingstone down in the Mayoral election next year.
When this strike is over we have more delays on the tubes this weekend with planned engineering works, and after that we are likely to have further strikes going ahead next week for the same period, we can only hope that TFL will be able to learn a lesson from the mistakes they have clearly made this time around and make quite a lot of changes to the way they handle the situation.
Looking ahead I can remember a phrase my mother always used to tell me before I went on holiday, it was about not keeping all my money in my wallet in case I was robbed by foreigners, the phrase went ‘‘don’t place all your eggs in one basket’’ I think that sums up quite well what has happened here, Metronet won the bidding for maintenance of 9 of the 12 tube lines, £17 billion contract was given to them for upgrade and maintenance over a 30 year period, surely someone in the office said ‘’hey, what happens if something happens to Metronet’’ I bet it was the summer intern, and all the Directors didn’t bother to listen to him/her, if you are that intern please let it be known to all your bosses, I told you so, is rightly yours to say. Now when the new contract is placed out on the table for bidding it will be split into several contracts so that no one company has a majority of lines (length of line excluded).
My choice for this and I will explain my reasons afterwards would be:
Contract A: Bakerloo, Victoria and Hammersmith & City
Contract B: District, East London Line, Waterloo & City
Contract C: Circle, Central, Metropolitan
The other 3 lines are already run by another contractor ‘Tube Lines Ltd’(TTL). My reasoning behind these contracts are sensible, each of the lines in a contract runs to a different part of London, thus if contract A goes on strike B, C and TTL are still running and London does not go into a crazed city of stressed and angry commuters, yes there would still be some hassle in that situation but people would be able to cope with it better and Londoners would not be crammed into busses like sardines.
All in all, I believe this strike to be a fiasco, disorganized at all levels and the ill-concieved measures to attempt to overcome the situation by putting extra buses on, then stopping them from reaching their proper destination, could be likened to a airplane that is late getting to Los Angeles so they drop the passengers off in the Atlantic, it doesn’t work.