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Friday, February 27, 2009

3D Tube Map and Mr T

If you've ever wondered what the London Underground Map might look like from above ground, the guys at
Digital Urban have created a 'quick and dirty' flythrough of the map in the video below:

London Tube Map Traditional Layout from digitalurban on Vimeo.

Taking this one step further, they've morphed this with plasticine look of the lines into a Google Map.

"The routes on the interactive image below illustrates a work in progress produced so we can easily identify the errors". Here's a screengrab, so visit Digital Urban's site to see it in action

Screen Grab of 3D Geographical Tube Map

There are a few errors here and there but it should only need a few tweaks to be near a complete version which can then be morphed and changed as needs be."

You can also also see the 'Google Maps' version in full screen. There's more about their mapping here.

Many thanks to Ianvisits for the heads up to this.

I love a lot of these creative visualisations of the map and seeing the geographical map from this perspective is leaps on from Simon Clarke's original Geographical Map that it was based on.

One person who's used to hanging out of helicopters and is very used to seeing in air city scenes is Mr T. Last night I was lucky enough to meet him as part of his Snickers Get Some Nuts tour.

Mr T Pitying Some fool

Mr T's Snickers Car

Typically my camera ran out of battery juice during the night, but there's a mixture of pictures from my Canon and my cameraphone in the following Mr T in London set. You'll also spot Craig out of the very first Big Brother in some of them!

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 27, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Boris Backs Bakerloo Extension

With Tube boss,
Tim O'Toole's resignation yesterday, Boris Johnson pledged an extension to the Bakerloo Line on the London Underground. At the Mayor's Question Time London Assembly member Val Shawcross asked what Boris had done to help the regeneration of Elephant & Castle station at the end of that line. Ms Shawcross told the Mayor that his record on the Elephant & Castle was one of "delay and delay and delay" and as a result Johnson has promised to visit it.

Tim O'Toole Resigns

Last year Johnson first suggested using tunnelling machines purchased for Crossrail to extend the Tube in South London once the east-west link was finished.

However Shawcross listed the Mayor's neglect of this area in South London and said

"Everything you have done with regard to the Elephant & Castle has stalled that major regeneration scheme: you dropped the tram project, you stalled ... the replacement of the dangerous fast roundabout and appalling underpasses, TfL have stalled on the discussion with Lend Lease and the council about the cost for the Underground station and the whole project cannot be signed off until that information is provided."

So Boris has agreed to do visit the area as long as Ms Shawcross also comes along her bicycle! He said: "Insofar as you are correct that TfL are the major blockage in delivering what we want to see at the Elephant & Castle then I will certainly do everything in my power to remove the blockage."

See London SE1 for more on this.

An extension to the Bakerloo Line would certainly help the great "North / South divide" as the Tube is certainly lacking in stations south of the river.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 26, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

London Underground Boss Resigns

Tim O'Toole, the Tube's Managing Director, has resigned and will be returning to the US.

The official reason given for O'Toole's resignation is that he wants to spend more time with his family back in the US. However, as the
Daily Telegraph says "they have always lived in the US during Mr O'Toole's six years at LU and, until now, he was happy to return at regular intervals to visit them."

Tim O'Toole TfL Prss shot

The unofficial reason for the resignation is that it's part of a growing row over the multi billion pound shortfall in the public funding for the Tube's upgrade.

Ken Livingstone was quick to show how this is a blow for Boris Johnson, who would have been relying on Tim O'Toole's experience and skills to ensure that as much of the upgrade as possible survived.

Livingstone said "I find it the most unbelievable incompetence and lack of interest in the lives of Londoners for Boris Johnson to lose one of the best public servants London has seen.

I want to thank Tim for his service to our great city. His unique personal qualities and professional talent, which won the hearts of all who worked with him, will be sorely missed.

Peter Hendy, London's Commissioner of Transport echoed Ken when he said O'Toole would be missed and said:

"Tim has led LU to its highest levels of performance while carrying record numbers of passengers - all at a time of great change as billions are invested to improve the Tube. His leadership was exemplified by getting London moving again so quickly after the terrorist attacks of July 2005. We will greatly miss him as a colleague and I will miss him as a friend".

TfL's website said his role will be advertised shortly.

Thanks to Brian Pigeon for giving me the heads up or rather beaks up to this.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Recycling Metros on the Tube

Metro are trying another approach to tidy up the London Underground in the mornings, by running ads encourage commuters to recycle their papers rather than "desert" them.

Recycle your Metro ad in Metro

However, it didn't seem to be working that well yesterday, as I saw the usual pile of Metros (with this very ad in them) on the little ledge behind the seats on the Piccadilly Line.

Discarded Metros

I must admit that I used to regard it as a personal service to my fellow commuters to leave my Metro behind for others to read. However, with londonpaper in the evening, I always recycled it.

Metro Sordid Affair - Recycling Ad

I bet Metro also use copies "passed on" in their total readership figures. But since I've seen the paper "mountain" in a number of Tube carriages, I always take any paper away with me.

Metro & other free-sheets have tried a number of initiatives to stop people leaving papers behind, from sponsoring recycling bins outside Tube stations in Westminster & a few stations in outer zones to getting staff on the London Underground to make announcements about taking your papers with you.

Piccadilly Line Litter

Apparently London Underground commuters left behind nine and half tonnes of free newspapers behind every day and that was just on the Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee lines.

Tube Lines said "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".

Maybe the new ads in Metro will work with some people, but it certainly didn't make much difference with some of my fellow commuters on the Piccadilly Line.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 25, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Fly the Tube

Someone looks like they were a bit troubled on the London Underground heading to Heathrow, if the scrawled message on following ad is anything to go by.

Heathrow Tube Ad by Utku Can

I was at the Football 3's soft launch with my friend Utku who works for Mint Digital (great idea to turn their meeting room into a pub, by the way) and he showed me a photo he took on Sunday.

The ad was extolling the virtues of Tube as the best way to fly, but someone else reckoned that getting a train would be better than flying. Maybe it was a message about saving carbon footprints rather than a speed issue though.

Either way, the ad about Heathrow reminded me of an London Underground ad from the Seventies, which promoted the Tube as "The only way to fly".

Fly The Tube & Clamped Tube Ads

So I grabbed my Underground Art book and sure enough, the ad, with it's very Seventies looking typeface, was there. As you can see, it's next to another more striking ad showing a clamped Tube.

The ad on the left is from 1984 & refers to when wheel clamping was introduced. "The absurd image of a clamped Tube train makes the advantage of Underground travel immediately obvious" wrote Oliver Green in the book.

However, as I live reasonably close to Heathrow, I usually take the opposite approach and take a taxi rather than a Tube to the airport. It's faster for me as I don't have to faff around with my luggage on a packed Tube or deal with interchanges. But loads of people do get the Tube to Heathrow rather than the Heathrow Express. I've never taken the Heathrow Express, but I have missed a flight through being stuck on the Gatwick Express, so I wouldn't see the train as the "only" way to fly.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 24, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 23, 2009

Inspector Sands in Action

In the last couple of weeks I was reminded that not everyone knows who Inspector Sands is. My friend Jemimah was evacuated from
Queensway Tube station a couple of weeks ago due to a small fire.

Queensway Station Small fire by Jemimah Knight

In true British fashion everyone left the station in an orderly fashion. Jemimah said "People were more curious than panicked. Over the tannoy we first heard "There is a good service on the Central Line" which mildly amused most of us. Then there was a repeated tannoy message asking for Inspector Sands again and again. If I was paranoid I would have thought that was code - it was certainly a recording rather than live tannoy call. Then we were told to please leave the station."

Another friend's brother, Alex, had similar experience of repeatedly hearing an announcement for Inspector Sands at Earl's Court Tube late one night. He said in his blog:

"This was getting really creepy. A dark platform with hardly a soul anywhere and a dismembered voice eerily repeating the same message over and over in the exact same manner.

Since it sounded like it could have been a recording, and by now my curiosity was well and truly piqued, I Googled the phrase. I expected to get no results, assuming that it really was a staff announcement, albeit a strangely delivered one.

After Googling he learnt that it's a coded phrase (which I actually thought a lot more people knew about) to alert staff to a fire alarm going off but without having people running around Dad's Army stylie saying "Don't Panic, Don't Panic"

"Smart. A bit more research and I found some TfL staff saying that it usually means a fire alarm has been tripped and 90% of the time it's a false alarm. There's even a couple of theories on the origin of the name Inspector Sands. "The use of the word "Sands" may be a pun on the fact that staff must investigate and reset the alarm system before a set period of time elapses, as might be measured in a sand-timer, and the station systems automatically switch to a fail-safe evacuation mode. Alternatively, it may reflect the fact that sand can be used to put out fires."

Apparently the Sands name came from theatre evacuation code. Mr Gravel was the code name for a bomb alert. But Inspector Sands is pretty common now, I wonder why don't TfL don't have another code name for the fire alarm being triggered?

It must be a bit awkward if your surname is Sands and you work for the London Underground. Does this mean that you could never be promoted to "Inspector" level? Otherwise you'd be making your way to the control room quite a few times under false pretences.

I'd also like know if there are more coded Inspectors who are called for on the London Underground? Like making an announcement for Inspector Ash if people are seen smoking on a platform, or asking for Inspector Boris if there are people drinking on the Tube?

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 23, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 20, 2009

Chiltern Railways welcome kissing

Following the sad
snogging stoppers at Warrington Bank Quay station, Chiltern Railways have decided they welcome kissing with open arms.

Kissing Welcome at High Wycombe Station

The poster at High Wycombe station above says: "Unlike other train companies, we would never dream of banning kissing at our stations."

In fact they want to encourage love and romance and are running a competition to promote the romance of railways "where fond farewells and emotional reunions take place, where relationships start with a glance and even, in the case of our Marylebone station last November, where one passenger will propose to another over the public address system!"

"To show that we are dedicated to spreading a little love around our stations, we are asking our passengers to send us a photograph of them kissing at one of our stations. From Birmingham Moor Street to London Marylebone, we've got lots and lots of picturesque stations, perfect for that romantic moment."

"The couple in the winning photograph will win free travel to and from London and a romantic champagne afternoon tea at London's exclusive Landmark Hotel. So pucker up and get snapping!"

You've only got till the 3rd of March to get snogging & shooting. Full details of entry are on Chiltern Railways' site.

Kissing Welcome at High Wycombe Station by huggs2

They've certainly got a point about the romance of railway stations. Even St Pancras International commissioned a statue of a kissing couple for the centrepiece of their station. Good luck to Chiltern Railways as it's a good way of saying one in the eye to Virgin Trains who issued the no kissing zones.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 20, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Underground Overground

Big Wombling Free

If you struggling to keep the kids entertained this half term, today sees the launch of
The Big Womble. It's a project which aims to recycle and reuse unwanted furniture (like the Wombles did back in the day). At Wimbledon College today there's a whole range of events including furniture painting & fixing and an auction for some celebrity cast offs including Barbara Windsor's footstool and a butcher's block from Tony Robinson.

Here's a map to help you make your way there. Activities start at 2pm and run till 6pm.

London Transport Museum

Also the London Transport Museum is running a number of half term activities including the rather sound instruction to "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus" on 21st February.

"When a friendly bus driver takes a break from his route he leaves the audience with one simple instruction, "Don't let the pigeon drive the bus!".

But, the cute blue pigeon is very clever. He begs the audience to let him drive the bus while the bus driver is gone. He pleads, whines, bribes, and even sings a song to get his own way - he wants to drive that bus!. Will he, won't he? ... the suspense is too much.

Pigeon on Tube Seat - Hammersmith & City Line

There are two shows at 12.00 and 15.00. Just don't let Brian Pigeon know about them, otherwise he'll be hopping on the Tube pretty sharpish to get in on the act. His sweary antics aren't really safe for kids.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 20, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chance to win an Acer Aspire Netbook

You might have seen a number of ads on the London Underground about shrinking the city. They're all for a new "pocket concierge" service from BT, called
BT Myplace. It's a free WiFi enabled directory in Westminster, so if you register your personal preferences (including favourite grub, hobbies, type of shops), you can find nearby recommendations based on those favourites and their location.

BT Myplace Tube Ad

Very kindly they're going to offer readers of this blog the chance to win an Acer Aspire One netbook. All you have to do is register with BT MyPlace, which will take you to the competitions page, click "Enter" next to Win in Westminster, find the Going Underground link, and answer the following fiendishly easy question:

What's the name of the disused Tube station at Aldwych?

BT MyPlace will pick the winner and I'll announce who the lucky person is as soon as I know it.

My Acer Aspire One Netbook

I wouldn't be able to enter the competition but those who know me personally, know how much I bang on about my wonderful Acer Aspire Netbook. It's a fantastic little computer which is really unbelievably light, has a nice keyboard for people with normal or chunky fingers like me, picks up wifi very well and is a brill back up laptop if you're on the move.

Good luck with the competition.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 19, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Metronet Report four months late

Don't hold your breath if you're waiting to hear what went wrong with Metronet, as a National Audit Office report on it is four months behind schedule.

Metronet, was the private-sector consortium contracted to renew and maintain two-thirds of the Tube, and went into administration in
July 2007.

Boris and Metronet

The people at the National Audit Office (NAO) can't agree on who was at fault for the collapse. Some of the NAO blame London Underground for bad handling of the contract, whereas others put the fault at the consortium behind the company, which included Balfour Beatty and Atkins

The Independent report that a source said: "Discussions in the drafting are trying to take the view on how much the collapse was to do with Metronet and the London Underground." The report is now expected to come out by Easter.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 19, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tunnelling Underground & Crossrail Lecture Tonight

Sorry about the short notice, but if anyone's interested in the challenges of tunnelling underground and the issues facing Crossrail there's free lecture tonight hosted by the Royal Society.

Crossrail begins by ianvisits

Professor Robert Mair from the University of Cambridge will be discussing the following:

"Urban congestion is a serious problem in many cities, so the creation of underground space and in particular the development of underground transport is environmentally essential. How can tunnels be built in ground sometimes as soft as toothpaste? What can go wrong? Will buildings above be affected by subsidence? What else is underground already that might get in the way? Geotechnical engineering, the application of the science of soil mechanics and engineering geology, plays a key role in answering these questions."

This lecture is free - no ticket or advanced booking is needed. Doors open at 5.45pm and seats will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.

If anyone goes and fancies doing a guest blog post for me, it'd be much appreciated as I'd like to know how a lot of this new tunnelling is going to work.

Full details are on the Royal Society's site and apparently there will be a live webcast of the lecture too.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 18, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Tube Graffiti comes to Kew

My friend and neighbour Richard from
Essential Travel, took a picture of a fairly rare sight on the District Line. Yesterday a graffiti'ed Tube pulled into Kew Gardens and it certainly took both him and me back to those 1970's images of New York subway trains where graffiti was part of the paintwork.

Graffiti Tube at Kew Gardens Station by Richard H

He thought that the London Underground had some rule that a train wasn't allowed to go in service, if it had been hit by graffiti. I'm not so sure. Admittedly I don't see a lot of trains around with graffiti on them, or perhaps it depends on the level of graffiti, before a train's taken out of service.

When I was in New York last Autumn, I visited the New York Transit Museum and they were so anti graffiti (or perhaps so proud of the crack down on it) that they wouldn't show any carriages with graffiti, even from a historical perspective.

John Travolta - Saturday Night Fever - Pre Graffiti Crackdown

The closest they got was this iconic image of John Travolta from Saturday Night Fever sprawled in a subway carriage.

All the subway shots were filmed inside the museum and one of the guides remembered chatting to Travolta when he came in.

People still have very strong opinions about graffiti on trains (and graffiti in general). It's regarded as street art in some circles. People like Banksy have certainly popularised the idea that urban art is not only that (ie artistic) but that it's also worth a pile of money. I know a number of people who thought that the Tube Carriage offices in the sky were just an art installation and not real offices.

Walking to the Offices

Perhaps there ought to be some places where graffiti artists can spray away to their heart's content. Maybe they'd be less inclined to climb onto lines overnight and spray trains.

Having this discussion before, Jon Justice found a video of some reverse graffiti, where a guy used dirty real life canvasses and left clean images on them. It's like a more artistic way of writing "clean me" on a dirty white van.

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

No kissing station zone

Hopefully the killjoy sign at Warrington Station wasn't put up on Valentine's Day. The station has now been separated into "kissing" and "non kissing zones" as part of a £1 million refurbishment.

No kissing sign at Warrington Station

Colin Daniels, chief executive of Warrington's Chamber of Commerce said: "It is a fairly congested station and ideally what we want is for people to come here, drop someone off and move on. But that wasn't always happening and people were lingering and causing delays.

"With these 'no-kissing' signs we are pointing out that we don't want people doing that right outside the front of the station. If they want to linger and say a longer goodbye they can do that in the 'kissing zone' where there is a limited amount of parking.

Radio 4 have a brilliant interview with Ken Gibbs from Virgin Trains who's trying to play down the story and suggest it's just a light hearted way of getting the message across.

I don't know why they didn't get the Japanese in for the signage. They wouldn't have messed about and would have come straight to the point. Kissing leads to well .. err ... you can see what it leads to below.

Subway sign in Toyko

Sadly the priority seating sign above turned out to be a spoof!

However, I wonder who's actually going to enforce the "no kissing" zones in Warrington? How long will it take for TfL to catch onto this idea and have "no snogging" signs on the Tube?

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 17, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roundels Not on the London Underground

Haven't had a post for Tube roundels spotted in unfamiliar habitats for a while, so luckily London Underground's lawyers can set their sights on other things. This round take us to Hong Kong with a spot from regular visitor Graham O'Mara

Photo by Graham O'Mara

He saw this in a local shopping centre. "It was located on the "underground" floor of a shopping complex in Kwai Fong, Hong Kong". I spose being underground means they thought they had license to use the roundel.

From Hong Kong to Mexico - Julio spotted this from a local electrical supplies store which used the roundel in Tijuana.

Roundel - Tijuana, Mexico taken by Julio

Over to Sydney, Erk Pod spotted the roundel in a Westfield shopping centre

Kids Central - Westfield, Sydney taken by Erk Pod

Apparently the children's shop didn't have a railway theme, so not sure why the roundel logo was appropriate.

The final one isn't a current roundel spot, but I like that someone somewhere thought it was once a good idea to make a shirt and a pair of culottes or Twiggy trousers covered in roundels.

Model in roundel clothing

Thanks to I.P for sending this one through. If anyone can speak Russian you'll find out its origin. It was taken by Norman Parkinson.

Thanks to all who sent them in. The set of Roundels not on the Underground is here and please feel free to mail me any you spot on your travels, and I'll try to get round to blogging the next ones sooner.

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 16, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 13, 2009

Twestival 2009

It was great being on the Tube yesterday to see
Twestival on the front cover of Metro. In a nutshell Twestival was a big global party for people who Twitter, set up to raise money for Charity : Water.

Twestival Metro Front Cover

Over 200 cities took part and I'm pleased to say that was one of the few major tech / Web 2.0'ie events that was set up from London.

Loads and loads of people helped to put the event together, but Amanda Rose deserves extra special kudos for hardly getting any sleep & making sure it went truly global.

@monkchips @amanda - London Twestival 2009

She is a lovely understated person too and hopefully we be able to sleep soundly again.

A number of you who read this blog were at the London event last night, so it was great to meet many of you in the flesh, croak at you (as I've almost lost my voice) & put some faces to the avatars. Even if some of the faces were a little err.. peculiar

@edent @robingrant @qwghlm @flashboy - London Twestival 2009

The rest of my photos from London Twestival are here, but there will be gazillions of Twestival pictures from around the world to see too.

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 13, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Flickr Scavenger Hunt at Acton Depot

See the Tube run like clockwork and get the chance of winning a prize, as the London Transport Museum are holding another Flickr photographic Scavenger Hunt. However, for the first time this will be at the Depot in Acton. It's part of the
Museum Depot's London in Miniature Open Weekend which runs from the 7th - 8th of March.

Abbey Road Model Tube Station 3

"You can test out your creativity by solving the clues to capture things both big & small in this fun setting. Prizes will be on offer as well as a chance to contribute to the Museum's growing photographic collection. To sign up please email communities@ltmuseum.co.uk Places are limited and will be allocated on a first come first served basis."

The Scavenger Hunt takes place on Saturday 7th of March and full details of timing can be found on the following Flickr Group which it's worth joining to show interest, but please also email The Communities Team at the Museum if you want to take part.

Abbey Road Model Tube Station 2

I've not been to the Museum Depot for a few years (here's when I was at the Transport in Miniature Open Weekend) so am looking forward to the hunt. The clues are being put together by my friends Cowfish, Mondoagogo and Blech (aka Billy, Anna and Paul) who are Flickr Scavenger Hunt aficionados so I'm imagining there'll be some inventive & challenging clues, with some great photographs at the end.

Hope to see many of you there.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 12, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube boss faces Snow Day questions

TfL boss, Peter Hendy will have some tough questions thrown at him today at London's City Hall. He's part of a London Assembly Meeting about transport. On the
agenda is a "response to the extreme weather conditions", when London's buses were taken off the road and the London Underground ran a massively reduced service on Monday 2nd Feb.

Kew Gardens Station in Snow - Eastbound

Look forward to seeing what comes out of this.

; Posted by annie mole Thursday, February 12, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tube workers protest over job cuts

If you're at St James's Park London Underground station today, look out for a number of members of the RMT and TSSA who will be handing out leaflets about the
redundancies which TfL announced last week.

Tube Cuts 1,000 Jobs

Although London Underground say that the loss of 1,000 jobs will not make any difference to the service, the unions don't believe this. They're also demanding that their employers "come clean" about the number of job losses.

The "noisy and colourful" protest will start at 8am today. RMT leader Bob Crow said "It is scandalous that loyal Tube workers doing their best to provide a service to the public should have to pay with their jobs for a financial crisis that is none of their making"

"There is no way that job losses on the scale planned by TfL can be implemented without affecting services, and it is sheer nonsense to suggest that there are hoards of superfluous workers that can be weeded out.

"We have made it quite clear that any attempt to impose compulsory redundancies among our members or to undermine their terms and conditions will be met with a ballot for industrial action"

Some Tube staff made comments in my post on the announcement of the redundancies, saying that they wouldn't be prepared to strike because of this and that the losses were only from duplicated jobs as a result of the London Underground & Metronet merger. I wonder if today's protests will make any difference.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube Photo of the Week

Another spoof sign spotted on London Underground. This was snapped by the eagle eyed
Adrian Fitch on the Victoria Line on Sunday morning.

It'd be difficult to know if this one was actually fooling tourists though. It's a subtle warning of a Penalty Fare if you fail to hide your true emotions fully or make any attempt to engage with passengers. I suppose most tourists would naturally think that we all follow it.

If anything it might make a few groups of loud tourists (usually from across the Pond!) stop reading out all the station names on the line maps in the the Tube and asking everyone how many more stops before Lie-chester Square!

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 11, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Snow Day U Turn for Tube Workers

Mayor Boris Johnson appears to have made a U turn with his comments about docking the pay of London Underground workers who couldn't get to work last Monday due to the

Boris said he had "absolutely no intention" of penalising tube staff after the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) revealed yesterday that ticket staff and other operational staff working for the Tube had been told they would have to take a day's holiday or lose a day's wages for failing to turn up to work last Monday.

Transport for London Fail Whale by Jon in 60 Seconds

Weirdly today's Metro hasn't caught up with Boris' latest words and seems to under the belief that workers may still get their pay docked.

Tube staff may lose pay - Metro

However, from The Guardian's report a spokesman for the mayor said: "The mayor has absolutely no intention of penalising anyone who failed to get to work due to last week's exceptional weather. More than 95% of London Underground's operational staff made it to work last Monday and the mayor is grateful for their efforts to get as much of the tube running as was possible in the circumstances.

"Around 100 employees were unable to make it to work that day and their managers are simply following normal procedure by making sure that all absences were due to the weather."

Gerry Doherty, from TSSA, said: "This amounts to a U-turn. We are delighted that the mayor has seen common sense on this issue. Staff should not be penalised because of his decisions and we welcome the fact that he has now recognised the justice of their case."

I must thank Jonin60Seconds for the Twitter inspired Snow Fail Whale at the beginning of this post, and it looks like with Boris's latest change of mind, an older transport Fail Whale is appropriate.

Boris Johnson Fail Whale by whoknowswherethoughtscomefrom

Let's see how he tackles the current row as it also emerged yesterday that TfL's top managers paid themselves more than £17m in salaries and bonuses last year.

These figures, obtained under a freedom of information request, are particularly galling as the news follows the above-inflation fare increases we were subjected to last month.

One hundred and twenty-three TfL managers earned more than £100,000 in 2007-08. In contrast, the Treasury, responsible for the entire British economy, had just 15 six-figure earners. The Guardian has more on this and it's interesting to note that "The list of top jobs provided includes many with apparently overlapping job titles and descriptions, but there appeared to be nobody whose main responsibility is reducing the impact of TfL services on the environment, according to the Standard, nor any post with a job description which includes emergency or contingency planning, which includes dealing with extreme weather conditions."

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 10, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Monday, February 09, 2009

Targeting Tube Ads

CBS Outdoor, the guys that sell London Underground's ads, seem to be ramping up the
advertising campaign for their own work. However, I really like this campaign and the ad below really appeals to me.

CBS Outdoor Tube Ad

They've managed to target it at an age group, that probably anyone above thirty would relate to.

It must be quite difficult to devise a campaign aimed at most commuters. I've no idea what the average age of people travelling on the Tube is. I'd guess at early thirties. Unlike one of the other ads in the campaign (below) which refers to recent certainties, the one above hopes that most people will get the Grange Hill, Back to the Future, Swap Shop, Jaws and Swatch references.

CBS Outdoor Tube Advertising Ad at Hammersmith

Perhaps there's some knowledge of the average age of people travelling through certain stations. I took the first picture at Leicester Square Tube, and the second at Hammermsith.

Maybe there's ads on the system somewhere targeted directly at Baby Boomers. They might make more references to the certainty of knowing that the Beatles would always have a number one record somewhere in the world or that your Dad would say "You're not going out in that mini skirt".

However, they do manage to keep me mildly entertained until the next "big choo choo train" comes along, although funnily enough that was the only part of the first ad which I wish the creatives hadn't written!

; Posted by annie mole Monday, February 09, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Friday, February 06, 2009

Scared of the Tube

Thanks to Holly who runs a interesting site -
Minor Delays (more on that next week), who told me about an audio project called Urban Scrawl. It's a series of podcast dramas based on every station on the Piccadilly Line.

Help Point at Hammersmith

So far they've covered Ickenham, Ruislip, Sudbury Town, King's Cross and my favourite Hammersmith.

The one on Hammersmith is about a guy who is scared of Hammersmith London Underground Station. Not just a particular part of it but "just the main part, where the District and Piccadilly Lines go through. I can't go there..."

Minder Poster at Hammersmith Tube

Maybe he was scared by Shane Ritchie leaping out of the Minder poster there!

It's a funny five minutes, mainly because I'm fairly familiar with Hammersmith station as, it's my daily interchange station. Although I'm sure that phobia of the Tube isn't great.

My ex-husband used to be really scared of being in the underground part of the Tube. When we started dated, it's a pretty weird thing to have to tell someone and I thought he was joking. But he got often got panic attacks underground and I could feel him shaking & sweating, particularly when the trains ever stopped between stops (which they appear to do fairly often when you're scared of them).

He got over this after a while, but we had to make a number of convoluted trips and get off the Tube early & continue our journey by bus, when things got really bad. I'm not sure exactly how he got over it. It was probably eventually, him getting a job, which meant he had to use the Tube everyday. However, the time when the Underground was his personal Room 101, wasn't a pleasant memory for him.

When I was very young, I had a massive fear of escalators (not just Tube escalators). I thought my feet would get eaten by them and I had to physically dragged up Tube ones whenever we came into central London. Thankfully I'm over it now, but I bet there are a lot of people around guarding secret phobias of the Tube or parts of it. Perhaps you're one of them or know someone who is?

; Posted by annie mole Friday, February 06, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Here Comes Everybody - Mobilising Tube Commuters

Last night I went to see the brilliant Clay Shirky in one of his visits to the UK. I'm a big Shirky fan. I can bore for England on his thoughts. This will be the third time I've seen him speak & one of those was even in his home town of New York, when I was on holiday there last September.

Clay Shirky at LSE

In a nutshell Clay's best selling book "Here Comes Everybody" can be summarised in five words - "Group action just got easier". He believes that the internet has made mass collaboration easier, than it's ever been before & that through things like Facebook Groups, online forums, blogs & plain & simple email, we can get groups of people to do things on a quick & large scale.

In the Q & A afterwards someone pointed out that most successful mass online collaboration comes from reacting against something - ie pointing out that something's wrong & getting people to echo & spread how wrong that thing is in the hope that the powers that be will change it.

In a way the questioner was right. Recently there was a campaign to expose MP's concealing their expenses. A Facebook group gained over 10,000 members in 48 hours & many members wrote to their MPs & blogged and the vote to conceal MPs expenses was cancelled by the Government.

I was challenged to write a post by the Carnival of Modern Liberty & thought if this something I that's relevant to this blog.

However, as much as I'd like it, I can never really see mass online groups working to make real change on the London Underground. Most of the large Facebook groups are usually in the Just for Fun category - ie People who secretly pretend to drive the DLR and People who temporarily fall in love with people on the Tube. There's nothing wrong with them of course & if anything they help us put up with daily grind on the Underground.

But whenever something we really moan about arises - like the annual above inflationary fare rises - nothing happens. We grin and bear it as we're basically held over a barrel - voting with our feet is like shooting ourself in the er.. foot.

Same thing with Tube strikes. We moan, but what can we do? There was the famous London Underground song - which was viewed & downloaded by hundreds of thousands of people - but it didn't actually stop the London Underground from appearing to have most of the characteristics moaned about in the song.

Apparently my blog is an "online flyer" by Annie Mole

The closest we got to mass collaboration, which gained momentum through the internet was the final Circle Line party to say farewell to the end of booze on the Tube.

I have absolutely no answer or solution to mobilising Tube commuters. All I try to do is to make people aware of issues which I think are interesting, wrong, funny or annoying. I know there's a lot of you who share those views. I also know that the London Underground & TubeLines at least read this blog and other London blogs. TfL even invited me & other bloggers to a bloggers briefing in advance of them launching their online tools. However, as Shirky said last night, bloggers in themselves aren't enough to make social change, no matter how well they write.

Last night, we saw a slightly mellower Clay Shirky to the one who really championed the wisdom of the crowds & crowd collaboration. For the first time he said in public that mass collaboration isn't going to solve every problem. He believes that we really need a mix of bloggers, online group leaders and people doing grass roots work at a local level. He said, that good ideas come from small groups of smart people and people with a shared mission. Not necessarily a large bunch of hotheads trying to game the system. See David Wilcox's post with a video of this part of Clay's talk.

He also made the very good point that nothing solidifies a group like an external threat. He half joked that those that don't have an external threat, have to have a paranoid leader, as they will soon find a threat.

oyster by nedbaker

I've always been a little ambivalent towards Cory Doctorow and the Boing Boing guys when they talk about the evilness of Oyster cards. But now I see where they're coming from more, even if I don't necessarily agree with them (I seriously don't think London Underground have the bandwidth or money to do anything with a lot of information they hold on us). Part of my view change is to do with having met Cory in the flesh a few times & he's a very smart guy. But part of this, is the knowledge that nothing empowers groups more than an enemy or a threat to one's freedom (or perceived freedom) or right to knowledge.

The minute our freedom to drink on the Tube or to make Oyster watches gets taken away from us, even if we'd never even thought of drinking on the Tube or making Oyster watches in the first place, that's when we might be motivated into some sort of action.

Anyway, thanks for making it to the end of this post and if you've got any thoughts about this or transport campaigns you think people would be motivated into action about, let us know in the comments.

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 04, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tube boss apologises for shutdown

Tim O'Toole, Managing Director of the London Underground, made an apology (sort of) on
London Today, ITV's local news last night.

London Underground - closed by *hoodrat*

He said: "We're sorry that our people endured the same conditions as they did struggling to get to work. But, they have to know we worked very hard with hundreds, literally hundreds of people out last night, clearing the network to make sure we could offer them a service this morning."

Transport for London commissioner Peter Hendy also apologised for the disruption to the service. He told the BBC "It was the worst snowfall for two decades. The local authorities deployed everything they had on Sunday night and Monday morning, but it just wasn't enough for the circumstances."

But with more snow expected on Thursday & Friday, and the Met Office saying "Be prepared", will our transport system cope this time?

Stephen Almabritis from the Federation of Small Businesses is unhappy, as the disruption cost the UK economy an estimated £3.5 billion. He said "One of the world's biggest econimies should not be grinding to a halt, even if it is only once in every ten years. We are calling on Boris Johnson to call in the mayors of cities including Ontario, Vancouver and Moscow and just pick their brains. What is it they do that we don't?"

; Posted by annie mole Wednesday, February 04, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

London's Transport recovers after wrong amount of snow

After yesterday's "Arctic" conditions, with London's worst snowfall in 18 years, looks like we will have an easier journey into work this morning. Most of the London Underground seems to be working and at time of writing (7.20am) only the Circle Line is completely suspended due to a broken down train. There are part suspensions on the District, Bakerloo & Hammersmith & City Lines, so check the
Tube's website before you leave home.

View from my study - 3rd February

Here's the view from my study today, with the District Line coming in from Richmond, so err... luckily, I'll be able to get into town.

Most of the main roads have been cleared of snow, so most of London's buses are back on the road. However TfL said "Five routes are currently suspended linked to the volume of gritting taking place on local roads and there may be reduced services on some other routes."

The Congestion Charge, which Mayor Boris Johnson lifted yesterday, is back to normal operation today. You'll be pleased to hear that the wrong type of snow wasn't blamed for our transport system not coping. Yesterday The Mayor said:

"There's no doubt about it, this is the right kind of snow, it's just the wrong kind of quantities.

"My message to the heavens is: 'You've put on a fantastic display of snow power but that is probably quite enough'."

I like how in yesterday's interview above Boris manages some clever avoidance. Johnson says "We've actually been quite successful with the Tube network". The interviewer responds rather quickly with "If this was successful I'd like to see what unsuccessful was like".

; Posted by annie mole Tuesday, February 03, 2009 Permalink COMMENT HERE