With RMT union members expected to demonstrate outside City Hall this morning over planned ticket office closures, London Underground bosses have published new figures suggesting ticket office sales have fallen by 15 per cent during the last year.
The unions and LU are currently in dispute over plans to close ticket offices with transport bosses insisting rising levels of Oyster use mean fewer ticket office transactions are taking place.
Plans to close ticket offices were first announced by former-Mayor Ken Livingstone in June 2007. During 2008’s Mayoral election, Boris Johnson opposed the plans, signing a petition against the closures and making a manifesto pledge to stop them.
During the election Mayor Johnson wrote: “Ken Livingstone plans to close a large number of ticket offices at Tube stations, predominantly in outer London because he claims that the increase in Oyster use has made them surplus to requirements. However, what he has not taken into account is that local people feel it is important there is a manned ticket office at their station, as often there are not enough Oyster outlets in the local area.”
However earlier this year Transport for London unveiled similar plans to those previously condemned by the Mayor, leading to unions and political opponents accusing him of breaking his promise to Londoners.
Questioned over his u-turn by Labour Assembly Member Navin Shah at Mayor’s Question Time in March this year, Mayor Johnson claimed to have “no idea what the position of the previous Mayor was on this” and defended the closures.
AUDIO: Boris Johnson says he has “no idea” what his predecessor’s policy was
Today LU will unveil figures showing that the number of tickets sold at offices “in the four week period ending in mid-October” was 700,000 fewer than for the same period last year while ticket machine sales “have risen by around 300,000 per four-week period.”
In a statement issued on Monday, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said the union would be protesting outside City Hall to coincide with today’s Mayor’s Question Time session.
Mr Crow said: “the reality of the hidden drive towards de-staffing has left many stations without a single member of staff and internal documents show that London Underground is planning for much worse to come.”
Mike Brown, London Underground’s Managing Director, said today’s figures “confirm that the way people buy tickets has changed, and we must change too.”
Mr Brown insisted his team had been consulting with the trades unions and that “proposals are being introduced by not filling vacant positions and with voluntary redundancy. No one who wants to stay working on our stations is being forced to leave.”