London Assembly Member Val Shawcross has called on Boris Johnson to “honour his election pledge to protect ticket offices” and re-think plans to reduce office opening hours across the network and close some ticket offices.
The reduced opening hours are set out in an internal Transport for London document which was leaked after the Mayor told Assembly Members that no ticket offices would be closed.
Speaking at this month’s Mayor’s Question Time Johnson also denied having any knowledge of former-Mayor Ken Livingstone’s plans to reduce opening hours in the wake of Oyster’s success – the same justification the Mayor and TfL now cite for their on cuts – despite campaigning against them.
Shawcross says analysis by her office suggests 90 per cent of London’s underground stations will have their ticket office opening hours reduced and that around a fifth of these would open for less than 4 hours per day.
Speaking on Tuesday Shawcross said: “ticket offices across London are having their opening hours slashed under these plans, which will make stations feel less safe and less secure. The biggest hits come in outer London, making a mockery of the Mayor’s promises to stand up for those outside zone one and to protect ticket offices.”
Labour’s call for a “review” of the plans comes as the RMT confirmed it will ballot members for strike action over the plans as well as job cuts at PPP contractor Tube Lines.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said his union “have already warned that the cuts that are being planned by TfL will turn tube stations into a muggers paradise and we now have concrete evidence that the company are speeding up the process and are already leaving stations unstaffed, or babysat with just one member of staff, without any consultation.”
Crow said staffing cuts by Tube Lines “are bound up with the £1.7 billion funding row with the Mayor and TfL” which follows a decision by the Tube PPP Arbiter over the level of funding for the next phase of the PPP contract.
Mr Crow said: “our members jobs, and the essential works on Piccadilly, Northern and Jubilee Lines, must not be written off as collateral damage in a political war over the failed tube privatisation experiment.”
“RMT has made it clear right from the outset that we will not sit idly by while the Mayor, his transport officials and Tube Line’s drive down tube staffing levels to dangerously low levels. We gave LU and Tube Lines an opportunity to pull back from these cuts but they have decided to plough on leaving us with no option but to organise ballots.”
London Underground bosses have called the RMT’s threat of strike action “unjustified and knee-jerk” and insisted the plans are at a “very early stage of the consultation process.”
LU’s Richard Parry commented: “Like any public service, we have to be as efficient as we can, particularly in the present difficult economic times to deliver value for money for the farepayers and taxpayers who fund the Tube.”
“The huge success of Oyster means the use of ticket offices has fallen by almost 50 per cent. Just one in 20 journeys now starts with a visit to a ticket office. The proposed changes to ticket office opening hours would enable us to deploy our staff in those places at those times where passengers need them most – on stations, not behind glass screens or in back of office roles.”