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Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Boris Johnson's Plans for the Tube

So the work towards the Mayoral Elections is beginning to speed up a notch now and Conservative candidate Boris Johnson made front page of the evening papers last night. His headline grabbing pledges to protect London Underground travellers & also run later trains managed to do exactly that - ie make the headlines.

Boris Pledge on Tube Station Police

Boris's transport manifesto unveiled yesterday, included the creation of 50 extra transport police to boost uniformed presence at the worst suburban stations and 440 more PSCO's (no idea what they are - I'm sure someone will be quick to tell me) to patrol buses and the Tube.

Boris plans to pay for the extra officers (in addition to the thousand more promised by Ken Livingstone) by cutting the Mayor's rather large media & marketing budget.

Johnson also plans to stop the closure of Tube ticket offices and pledged to extend the Tube's operating hours from central London until about 1.30am on Friday and Saturday nights. He admitted that this might mean that engineering works, which take place at night, could be delayed.

He also promises to bring in direct debit for Oyster cards and more air conditioning for the Tube.

He said "We too often spend our mornings and evenings in cramped overcrowded carriages.....and we pay the highest fares in Europe".

From Boris's campaign website

He would also try to negotiate a deal with unions where, in return for agreeing not to strike, an independent arbiter would rule on pay.

All well and good. But (you knew there was a "but" coming), Lib-Dem candidate Brian Paddick said the plans for transport policing were actually beyond the mayor's remit, which does not cover the BTP (British Transport Police).

London TravelWatch chairman Brian Cooke, pulled out of yesterday's launch claiming that if he were there, it would look as though he were endorsing Boris.

Moving on through The Evening Standard there's a full page feature by Tony Travers (Director of the Greater London Group at the London School of Economics) saying that Johnson's transport plans show depth, but need to go much further to solve London's problems.

He said "Taken together, the Boris transport manifesto is mildly "Right wing" on law and order, in that there will be additional policing, live CCTV and new punishments. But apart from that, it is without political leanings. The contents are designed to convince voters that Johnson has joined the sensible party.

And that's it. The sole commitment on fares is to lobby commuter rail operators to reduce them. There is no detail about the future of Travelcards and Oyster fare levels.

He continues: "The Tories' transport manifesto is aimed squarely at showing Londoners they can vote for Boris without the sky falling in. The document is full of referenced sources, stressing its solidity. Voters are expected to read the plans and feel comforted that they could vote for him without threat to their Tubes, buses or fares. But given the gap in experience between Livingstone's decades at the top of London government and Johnson's newness, the Conservatives need to go further than this document...."

"Frankly, London needs radical action to improve its transport systems. The theoretical promise of Crossrail in 2017 is still a long way off. The outcome of the £30 billion Tube PPP remains almost invisible. Since 2003, £6 or £7 billion has glugged into the Underground's track, signals and stations, but there is no evidence of fewer power failures, train breakdowns and signal glitches."

Travers concludes: "There is a political sting in the tail of these transport plans. Johnson says that the "same old solutions are coming from City Hall, dripping with fatigue". But unless there are convincing new solutions coming from the Conservatives, too, such a criticism could come back, like a boomerang, to hit them. Johnson needs convincing and eye-catching ideas to solve London's transport problems - so let's hear them."

This is a long post and I appreciate you getting this far with it. I'd love to hear your comments and will make my personal views known in the comments too, rather than making this post any longer.

; Posted by Annie Mole Tuesday, March 04, 2008 Permalink COMMENT HERE Add to Stumble Upon