Mayor responds to London TravelWatch review into Tube ticket office closures

02 December 2016

This press release was issued by the Mayor of London - further information about the review and London TravelWatch's online survey can be found on this dedicated webpage.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has welcomed the findings of London TravelWatch’s independent review into the impact of the previous Mayor’s Tube ticket office closure programme.

The review was commissioned by the Mayor to deliver on his manifesto pledge to examine the impact of ticket office closures under Boris Johnson, and to look at what can be done to improve the experience for London commuters and visitors.

It identifies a number of key issues, including measures to make staff more accessible to passengers, to provide better visibility of staff and to update the functionality of ticket machines following the closure of ticket offices.

The independent report concludes that ticket offices were closed before steps had been taken to provide decent alternative provision and to ensure all passengers continued to get the proper service they need. The report does not call for the reopening of closed ticket offices.

In response to the report, the Mayor has asked TfL to immediately draw up a full action plan to address the problems identified, which will be presented at the next meeting of the TfL Board on 15 December. TravelWatch will also be asked for their views on the action plan.

The Mayor has asked for this action plan to:

  • Look at whether staffing levels are appropriate across the underground network.
  • Make staff more visible and available for passengers.
  • Look into a programme of ticket machine upgrades to ensure that passengers are able to buy the right ticket and get refunds when they need them.
  • Ensure that passengers are able to find help and assistance when it is needed.

Specific initiatives in the action plan will include:

  • TfL will offer to establish a joint working group with the Trade Unions to review the overall deployment of staff across stations. TfL will consider with the unions whether any further action is needed to ensure staff training is comprehensive and delivered in an effective way.
  • A new trial of staffed information zones where passengers can go to for assistance from a member of staff. This will start with an immediate trial at Westminster station, with further trial locations to be identified in the action plan.
  • Changes to the staff uniform and how staff are deployed to make them more visible, to enable passengers find help quickly and easily
  • A review of how visitor centres operate, with changes to signage and information, and a review of opening hours to ensure the widest possible range of people can access their services
  • Immediate improvements to the Turn Up and Go service to ensure the service is more reliable for those in need of travel assistance
  • A programme to upgrade ticket machine functionality that will help people purchase boundary extensions for travelcards. TfL has already begun a trial of boundary extensions and will look to phase these in next summer.
  • Development of technological solutions to make the purchasing of tickets quicker and easier
  • Local action plans will be developed to address station-specific issues raised in the report, beginning with those stations where particular issues have been identified.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: "I want to thank London TravelWatch for this comprehensive report that raises serious issues around the service passengers receive on our transport network. In my manifesto I promised to review the impact of ticket office closures under the last Mayor, and today’s report makes it clear that more has to be done to ensure passengers can get the right information and support when they need it.

"I have now asked TfL urgently to present a full action plan responding to all the concerns outlined in the Travel Watch report. Where the necessary alternative provision was not provided after ticket offices were closed, we now need action straight away. Millions of commuters use our stations every day, and we must do everything we can to ensure every passenger feels safe and can access the assistance they need."

TravelWatch Chair, Stephen Locke said: "London Underground's ticket office reforms are affecting many Londoners and visitors to the capital. We are pleased to have been able to carry out this detailed assessment of the impact the changes have had on passengers. Our research was commissioned by the Mayor but we have reached our conclusions independently, drawing on a wide range of evidence, including input from the general public, staff and mystery shopping of stations.

“We have concluded that much more needs to be done to make the new system as passenger friendly as it needs to be. Our research has identified significant issues that must still be addressed, including the layout of stations, the services provided by ticket vending machines, staff training and availability, and assistance for people with disabilities. The new arrangements could, potentially, deliver good customer service - but we have listed several recommendations that need to be implemented before the reforms can be given a clean bill of health.”

Mark Wild, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “I welcome this report and thank London TravelWatch for their thorough review. Since I joined London Underground earlier this year it has been a priority of mine to analyse the ticket office closures and ensure we are still giving customers the very best service. We are completely focussed on making the changes needed to ensure that our customers feel safe, fully supported and able to access the right assistance no matter where they are travelling on the Underground.”

 

Notes

  • The TfL action plan in response to the recommendations will be published ahead of the next TfL Board meeting on 15 December and will be considered by the Board.
  • TfL supported London TravelWatch’s review by advertising it on the network, supplying requested performance data, facilitating customer and staff feedback groups, and helping with business as usual activities.
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