London TravelWatch responds to Review on 14/09/2010
London TravelWatch has expressed its disappointment at the conclusions of the London Assembly’s Review.
Sharon Grant, Chair, London TravelWatch said: “The Review is a disappointing document, and we are deeply shocked that the London Assembly wants to silence the only London-wide independent passenger voice in London, where transport is absolutely central to everyone’s life.”
The Review has been published by the London Assembly and identifies options for the future of passenger representation in the capital. It proposes the break-up of London TravelWatch, abandoning independent passenger representation.
Sharon Grant, Chair, London TravelWatch continued: “Today’s passengers owe a great deal to the work of London TravelWatch and its forerunners speaking up for passengers’ rights and interests. We think retaining an independent, non-party political voice for the passenger is crucial.
“The Review also seems to assume, mistakenly, that Londoners travel on one mode, and fails to recognise the importance of integrated transport in the capital: at interchanges, for example, and in fares and ticketing. This is unique to London, and of paramount importance to passengers. At a time when the Mayor is increasingly influential in shaping rail policy in London, it seems bizarre to propose a separate voice for rail passengers.
“Most importantly, we question the London Assembly’s assumptions about cost savings. We are already working towards achieving sustainable efficiency savings on accommodation and staffing which would ensure passengers are still adequately represented. We believe that there is no need on financial grounds to end 60 years of independent passengers’ representation.”
London’s passengers have had independent representation for many years, and this is a huge contributing factor as to why London’s transport is well ahead of other cities. Some of the benefits that many Londoners take for granted have been the work of London TravelWatch and its predecessors:
• Travelcards (previously Capitalcard) were introduced as a direct result of passenger body representation. It is hard to imagine London without an integrated form of ticketing or that Oyster would exist if its principle had not been enshrined.
• There was no independent recourse to appeal Penalty Fares until London TravelWatch pressed for one in the interest of fairness.
• We have campaigned persistently to ensure ticket offices remain open, and to ensure that ticket machines sell a full range of tickets, so passengers can get the best - and often cheapest - ticket available.
• We have worked with Network Rail, the rail companies and TfL together to co-ordinate weekend and holiday disruption to minimise times where underground and railway lines in the same area are not closed at the same time.
• We have had a central role in bus design, to ensure buses are as accessible as possible.
• We speak purely for passengers when services are planned, routes are considered, vehicles are designed and decisions are made.
The Review is available on the London Assembly's website.
For more information and background, please contact the London TravelWatch press office on 020 7726 9953 or 07734 055494.
The voice of London's transport users
15 September 2010