Today’s Standard carries a piece claiming Boris and Transport for London have a secret plan to close every Tube ticket office.
The ‘plan’ doesn’t seem that different from the one which has been doing the rounds for years but has prompted a rather excited response from Labour’s Shadow London Minister and claimed Mayoral hopeful Sadiq Khan.
The Standard only carries some of Khan’s statement, but I’ve copied the whole thing below:
“Boris Johnson and TfL must come clean about their plans. The revelations will have a devastating effect on the daily commute.
“Every Londoner has had to depend on staffed ticket offices when the machines are out of order or their Oyster card has stopped working. Under the Mayor’s plans you will now have nowhere to turn in these everyday situations.”
”Commuters will also understandably feel less safe using deserted stations late at night, particularly older customers and children.”
”Boris Johnson pledged to keep a ticket office open at every tube station in his manifesto. These revelations are a complete betrayal of that promise. Every journey should matter to the Mayor and he must not go ahead with these plans that ignore the needs and safety of hard working Londoners.
“As the Mayor said in his own manifesto ‘there is little financial, strategic or common sense in these closures’.”
There’s always been something curious about Labour’s determination to hold Boris to his 2008 manifesto commitment – in doing so they’re effectively saying he was right to oppose Ken Livingstone’s 2007 plan to close the ticket offices because of Oyster’s success.
Of course, people within parties do disagree with one another. But I can’t recall Khan opposing ticket office closures when Ken first proposed them.
I’m also not convinced about the implied Labour line that ticket offices should be kept open even when they’re not being used.
As with police front counters and fire stations, insisting unused ticket offices remain open leaves London Labour looking as if they’re ignoring shifting usage patterns and economic realities simply for the easy headline.
Some may think this makes for great opposition politics but it’s actually a pretty shortsighted strategy if you’re hoping to take power either in Whitehall or City Hall in the next couple of years.
What’s truly terrifying about Labour’s patting themselves on the back for the cleverness in opposing this six years old, much reported secret plan, is the fact that they’re making exactly the same error Boris did in 2008.
Does anyone in Labour actually stop and think before issuing knee-jerk press releases?