Yesterday, maintenance contractor Tube Lines blamed the growth of freesheets as one of the reasons for narrowly missing its "ambience target". Ambience measures things like the cleanliness of carriages, levels of customer information and how secure passengers feel during journeys.
"There has been a huge increase in the numbers of free newspapers being left on trains; typically 9.5 tonnes are picked off trains each day now, compared with three tonnes in the past," a spokesperson at Tube Lines said.
Even though there are a number of cleaners who sweep up the morning Metros and then clear out the evening londonpapers and London Lites, it's putting a strain on resources. Tube Lines has hired an extra 23 cleaners to put the papers into recycling bags at the end of each journey.
"There is very little that we can do other than ask London Underground to encourage people to take their papers with them," the Tube Lines spokeswoman said.
I must admit that I often add to the freesheet "mountain" in the mornings as I think it's a public service to leave behind papers for people. About 50% of the time I leave my Metro on the little ledge behind the seats, but for the other half I take it into work with me and throw it away there.
In the evenings I can't say I always take freesheets home with me, although I feel there's less of a public service leaving them behind, mainly because it's hard not to get on a Tube in zone one without getting past the over zealous distributors. One woman used to give me several copies, such was her enthusiasm to get rid of the papers and I always gave them back saying "one's enough thanks".
A spokeswoman for Associated Newspapers said: "London Lite is committed to acting in an environmentally responsible manner and seeks to actively encourage readers to recycle their copy once it has been read. London Lite is working closely with Westminster council and transport partners to try to address concerns regarding litter." It'll be interesting to see how they do this as they messages in the papers themselves clearly aren't doing enough. Perhaps we can have some more "Big Brother" style public announcements by LU reminding us to take our papers off the trains with us along with all of our personal belongings.