As well as making the London transport network even less accessible to disabled people or those with young children, this move will cause chaos for those who cannot afford annual or monthly season tickets and have to buy a ticket every time they travel on the underground.
Most Londoners will already have experience of arriving at a station and finding it impossible to buy a ticket due to broken machines. Without station staff this will mean people are unable to travel, or are likely to face a penalty fare when they reach their destination. Revenue Protection Officers, working to strict targets, rarely listen to excuses. For those on the lowest incomes these can be devastating, particularly as these £40 fines rise to £80 if not paid within 21 days. For someone on the dole this represents over a week’s income.
Already the cost of transport into Central London makes it almost impossible for those on the lowest incomes to travel regularly into the city centre. That is why many of the people working in pubs, shops and restaurants in Central London are from overseas, often living in dormitory style accommodation or hostels. Someone living in Zone 6 who needed to travel into London everyday would face a weekly fare bill of a staggering £55 – approaching a third of a weekly net minimum wage.
It is not that people from the UK are too lazy to take this kind of work, or even that there is a benefit system which pays people to stay at home as lying politicians claim. The stark truth is that it is financially impossible for many Londoners to take low paid work in the centre of the capital due to astronomical rents and transport costs.
Stripping away station staff will only make this problem worse, particularly for disabled people who are already excluded from much of London’s transport system. On top of this nearly 1000 station staff are set to lose their jobs.
Any Mayor worthy of the position – and no-one ever has been – should be striving to make London’s transport system both fully accessible and affordable, or even free. Boris Johnson is doing the opposite. A wave of strikes and protests is inevitable, and they deserve the support of all Londoners.
A flash mob will get the ball rolling this Friday 10th January. Meet at 3pm in Euston Tube station ticket office, for more details visit: http://dpac.uk.net/2014/01/hands-off-london-transport-campaign-supported-by-dpac-flash-mob-january-10th-3pm-euston-tube-station/
For more information on the Hands Off London Transport campaign visit: http://handsofflondontransport.wordpress.com/