Closure of Tube Ticket Offices

Meeting:

Mayor's Question Time

Date:

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Reference:

Question 2007/1315 (Oral)

Main question

Geoff Pope

A London Underground press release [01 06 07] announced that staff at some Tube stations will be redeployed from ticket offices to 'provide direct assistance and
reassurance', and 'be visible to help address security issues'. How will this be achieved given that at stations where the ticket offices are closed for much of the day already (eg North Ealing and West Acton) it is usually impossible to find any staff when help is needed - for example to get heavy luggage through the barrier?

Answer

The Mayor

The huge success of Oyster cards has dramatically reduced the demand for tickets from ticket offices, which means London Underground can reduce ticket office opening hours so as to redeploy staff to other parts of the station where they can better assist customers, provide direct assistance and reassurance, and be visible to help address security issues. London Underground recognises the need to ensure a consistently high level of customer service across the network and is monitoring implementation to help ensure this.

Geoff Pope (AM): The point of my question is that London Underground Limited is already incapable of managing its staff so that they are visible on stations. A London Underground insider was quoted in the media last week as saying that, `Cynics might say that this policy is an invitation for staff to disappear for tea breaks without being detected'. Is it not the truth that London Underground has no effective management system to prevent this happening?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): No, there is a management system. There are always going to be some people that malinger, there are some people who are supposed to be sitting in the office serving tickets who just pull down the blind and pop off to have a cup of tea. All my instincts were to reject this policy, so I asked for the number of ticket sales at the stations. The original proposal was for 40 stations. We have now removed the two with the highest ticket sales and it is down to 38 stations.

The worst example is Fairlop, selling 16 tickets a day. There is no justification for that. 22 of the stations are selling less than 100 tickets a day. That is a complete waste of resource. 32 are selling less than 150, and the 38th is selling 249. That is Sudbury Hill. Temple is selling 231. You might kick this around and there might be still some sort of case, but at the lower end there is not.

You are absolutely right; these staff have to then be on the ticket barrier and on the platform. If the existing mechanism is not effective we will have to put in place one that is. Bear in mind that we have closed circuit TV that covers virtually everything on our stations, so there is the mechanism there to do it. However, I think the majority of our staff will find it actually better. It is not a fulfilling job to sit in a little ticket box for 40 minutes waiting for a sign that life still exists on earth and for someone to pop up and ask for a ticket.

Geoff Pope (AM): Do you accept that this is first and foremost a matter of safety, so that people using the Underground feel safe? At the moment, in a crisis, they can go to the ticket office and they know where it is, whereas finding a stray member of staff somewhere on the platform can be quite difficult. Are you not putting safety at risk?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): If there is a problem, it is likely to be on the platform, and that is where we would like the staff to be. We are rolling out the emergency help buttons. This has to be seen against the background; we are talking about 240 staff being redeployed from the ticket offices on to roles on stations. Some will be driving the extra trains we are buying, but that is in addition to the 300 extra staff we are taking on over the next two years, so in no sense is this about reducing staff numbers. We want to see a much more continuous presence. If Members here start to pick up tales of stations where no one is ever seen, if you let us know we will check this through the management process, because the vast majority of these stations tend to be around the periphery or on a more lightly used line such as the western end of the Hammersmith and City line.

Geoff Pope (AM): However, as more people are using the Underground, you need more customer facing staff, not fewer. If the implication is some of them are going to be driving trains, they are not going to be available to sort out problems with buggies, baggage being carried, ticket machines not working, and change not being given. How are people going to find these staff?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): You may have a particularly engaging and helpful local Underground operative, but Underground operatives are not normally seen carrying peoples' buggies up and down the stairs.

Geoff Pope (AM): Getting them through the barriers can be quite difficult.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Well, if there is not anyone on the barrier door, the barrier door has to be open for that. Bear in mind this is against a background in which there are going to be an extra 350 ticket machines selling Oyster cards, and at the moment we have 2,500 Oyster ticket stops where customers can buy or top up their card. That will grow to 3,500 by next summer. We are really driving ahead.

When I looked at this range of stations, they are places like Moor Park. There is not a transitory population at Moor Park; I used to have a girlfriend at Moor Park, I went there quite frequently. Everyone at Moor Park knows the routes, I am sure they all have Oyster tickets as they know it is the cheapest way forward and so on. Therefore when you come to look at where we are increasing - we have just opened a fourth ticket office window at Victoria - there will be an increase where you have got problems of lots of tourists and lots of people turning up not knowing. But, frankly, the people at Moor Park broadly know the way their system works and usually have a season ticket and can afford to do it. We are looking at North Harrow, Totteridge, Croxley, Ruislip Gardens and West Finchley. That would not necessarily be a terribly effective policy in the middle of an inner city area with a huge population turnover, but in stable communities it works, I think, quite effectively.

Geoff Pope (AM): We are also talking about places like East Putney and Regents Park. You have not really persuaded the Unions at all, both ASLEF (Associated Society of Locomotive Steam Enginemen and Firemen) and TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs' Association), who represent the ticket office staff, are talking about chaos and confusion, and also that, `Passengers have every right to be horrified' is one of their statements. London Underground Limited has a pretty poor record in managing its staff. It is another example of poor industrial relations, is it not?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): In all the great debate between Tim O'Toole [Managing Director, Transport for London] and the trade unions whose side are you really on? If you wish to be a mouthpiece for Bob Crow that might get you another couple of points up the Liberal Democrat list, but it will not serve Londoners' interests very well!

Geoff Pope (AM): This is not Bob Crow's union though. This is not the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) saying that.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): If you want me to give the unions a right of veto over management that is fine, but I will have Mrs Thatcher come round to have a word with you about it! You cannot seriously expect any Trade Union is ever going to volunteer up the job of a single member however irrelevant it still is. That is not their job.

Geoff Pope (AM): They are not losing their jobs.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): No, but they would like to keep them all in there and then I employ another 200 staff to add to that on the platforms. At Regents Park, before it closed, the last figures I saw, they were selling 38 tickets a day. Now the choice we had there - we were remodernising the station - was did we spend £1.5 million to put in a ticket office which we might then close within a few months. I took the decision that that was silly. Regents Park is a case in point. Vast numbers of BBC workers stream in and out of there, all with their season tickets. I was surprised. I would have thought that would be one where tourists turn up saying, `Which way is it to the zoo' and so on, it would be useful to have someone to help, but it is actually a very lightly used ticket office.

Supplementary Questions - 7


Roger Evans

Before he left us last year, Jay Walder [former Managing Director for Finance, Transport for London] told us that London Underground, indeed Transport for London, had the most complicated ticket system that any of the public sector transport bodies he knew about had. How are people going to get help with this complex system at the stations where ticket offices have been closed?

The Mayor

If you have a tourist, whether it is from abroad or the rest of Britain, arriving, they tend to arrive at Heathrow or Victoria or Kings Cross. Here we will always have lots of windows constantly staffed and, as I have just said, we have added another one at Victoria.

That is not the position on the vast majority of our stations, and it is why we have introduced the Oyster card. You either get a season ticket and you know which zones that operates in and you are free to travel at will for up to the year within there, or you get an Oyster ticket which is pay as you go which will automatically charge you the cheapest fare. That is the best way forward. In a sense no one ever needs to consider the fares policy of London transport because a computer will always charge you the cheapest fare. That is much the best way forward.

It would be wonderful if we could just have a flat fare, like some other smaller transport systems do, but we are a fairly large system to have a flat fare. A flat fare has its attractions, but if, say, you were just someone who is only going around in a relatively small area, the bigger the system the higher the average flat fare is going to be. Therefore where the flat fares are very attractive, it is usually a relatively small transit system. In London, a flat fare would have to be quite painfully high to get the same level of fare income, and would be wonderful news for people in Ruislip coming into central London, but would not be much good news for people in Bermondsey or Catford.

Roger Evans (AM): I appreciate you may not get very many tourists in Ruislip or indeed in Barkingside, Hornchurch or Fairlop, but a lot of these are outer London stations, the sort of places that visitors to London drive to to park and then use the train to get in, so our own domestic visitors who have to buy tickets at those stations may find they cannot any more. What arrangements have you put in place for those people?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Londoners, or people driving in?

Roger Evans (AM): People driving in.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Well, people driving in are able to get an Oyster ticket outside of London in exactly the same way as one gets one inside London. When they get to the station there will be an Oyster card ticket machine to sell them one. Literally we are only getting 2% cash on the bus and 3% cash on the tube. You can see a point where we will be down to the only people paying cash are those who have an ideological objection to having an Oyster card on the grounds that the state knows where you have been. I can well imagine Peter [Hulme Cross] not wanting one!

Roger Evans (AM): Two of these stations in my patch, Barkingside and Fairlop, are stations which are next door to each other. Therefore, you could have a situation someone turns up, they cannot get a ticket at one station, they travel to another one nearby to get a ticket and find they still cannot get one. Has that sort of inconvenience been considered?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Barkingside has 28 ticket sales a day. Bear in mind, even if we only have the ticket office open briefly, we will be paying the person in there, the lowest grade, about £22,000 a year with on-costs. It is costing about £30,000 a year minimum - and I suspect much more than that - to service 28 people who could just as easily get an Oyster card, which, in the long run, will save them money. If you are telling me to come forward with a proposal to increase the Council Tax next year to carry on staffing all of these, I just think it is a waste of money.

Roger Evans (AM): I do not think that anyone would object to you saving money, or redeploying staff from positions where they are not needed either. In fact, the original proposal which we saw from London Underground said they were going to do this. What it did not say was the result would be the complete closure of ticket offices elsewhere. The implication was always that maybe there would be fewer windows, but there would always be a service at every station. I think that is what concerns local people who are paying their Council Tax in outer London for a service which they now will not be receiving.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): The best value they can get is to have a season ticket if they are regular travellers, and a pay-as-you-go Oyster card if they are not. The discrepancy between cash fare and the Oyster is so great. We had this huge drive recently giving away 100,000 because we think a lot of people did not want to pay the £3 and so on. We will continue to bear down on that, but there is no way you could justify keeping a member of staff at Barkingside selling 28 tickets a day. In an ideal world, yes, effectively you almost want a personal manservant looking after your every need. We cannot afford it.

Angie Bray

Can I just be clear; you are saying that somebody cannot be employed to sell 28 tickets a day? Does that mean that that person is going to lose their job and that is a salary saved, or what?

The Mayor

No, no. 240 staff are affected. All of them will be redeployed into one of three roles; we need a small number of extra staff to drive trains because we are buying more trains, but the vast majority of them will go into being on the platform or at the ticket barrier, and all of them on stations where there is always a member of staff present on the station while it is open.

Angie Bray (AM): It is misleading then to talk about saving the Council Tax-payer money because it is not as if we are going to be employing fewer people. Surely there ought to be flexibility; unless you are saying you wish to drive out any ticket buyer and force every single traveller to use an Oyster card, unless you are saying that, you have to accept that there is room for some ticket sales, there is a necessity for some ticket sales, and surely the idea should be flexibility? These staff should be around to sell tickets as and when they are needed, but can then be redeployed on the station across the rest of the day.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): You would be in huge complications because you are taking cash, and you have got to have all the security that that implies, and all the auditing checks that that implies. We have now got to a position where we have 11 million of these Oyster cards in circulation; some people have two or three, others have bought them while they were here as tourists, and have kept them when they have gone home knowing they will use them when they come back again. If there was not a huge benefit in terms of cheaper travel by Oyster you would have a point, but we have created a system where it is cheaper to travel by Oyster, and therefore to have an Oyster machine at Barkingside selling people those tickets is a lot better than someone sitting in a cubby hole.

Angie Bray (AM): That may be true for the vast majority of people, but what I am really saying is are you in the process of simply dismantling all other ways of paying for travel other than Oyster? In your perfect world, would we get to a situation where there were no ticket sales at all, and we would all be forced to use Oyster, whether we liked it or not?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Forced? The moment we introduced a discrepancy in the pricing between cash fares and the others, the cash fares started to slump. They are down, I should imagine across the whole system, to 2.5%. I suspect within a year or two we will be down to less than 1%.

Angie Bray (AM): Will you still respect the fact that that 1% may need to be able to purchase their tickets differently?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Those people that are absolutely determined that they wish to pay cash, will always be able to give it to the bus driver.

Angie Bray (AM): What about to the tube train driver?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): You cannot give it to the tube train driver!

Angie Bray (AM): Exactly! So what are you going to do for them?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): At every tube station there will be a machine where you can buy your ticket. At every tube station. Around those tube stations, there are thousands of tobacconists ' and, given that the tobacconists face a difficult time in the months to come as their sales slump, we are encouraging more of them to make money selling Oyster cards. The number of times now I am buying my paper on a Saturday and I am delayed whilst the person in front of me is getting their Oyster card topped up. It is annoying, temporarily, but in the greater scheme of things, a benefit to all humankind so I live with it.

Angie Bray (AM): I have one final question which Richard Barnes would have asked you but he is ill today so I will ask it for him; at stations like West Acton and North Ealing, where the ticket stations are hardly ever manned and the staff are supposedly redeployed on the station, there is no member of staff often to be seen, so what difference is it going to make if you do redeploy staff on to the stations?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): There is always a member of staff at the station; they may not be visible, they may be inside the office. At West Acton we sell 91 tickets a day, and therefore that is one where I have no doubts whatsoever. The only way of checking this is if - torn between those who wish to be a mouthpiece of the Trade Unions and those who wish to be the hammer - perhaps you just let me know if you never see anyone at your local station. I will get Tim O'Toole to look into it.

John Biggs

I have two very simple questions; the first is, just to be local, my constituents in Dagenham, where there have been a number of incidents around stations, will want to be reassured that this does not mean that it will be impossible to find a member of staff. Therefore, are you clear that within TfL, within the Underground, this is going to be properly managed so that if someone has a problem at a station they can press a button or whatever and they can find someone who can address their concerns immediately? There is a concern among the public that staff might be hiding. I think that is a misrepresentation because staff tend to work pretty hard. Can you address that point?

The Mayor

There will always be a small minority of staff who malinger. We had the case of the guy who claimed to be ill and was actually caught at the squash club and then turned out to be a DJ in the evenings. You look at the way staff responded to the 7 July terrorist attacks and these are pretty heroic people. They do not earn a vast sum of money, and the vast majority of people are earning nothing like train drivers, but I have always found them - even before I became Mayor - courteous and generally helpful.

John Biggs (AM): If I am an ordinary bloke in Dagenham and I go to my station, I have a bit of a problem and I need some assistance, the information tells me that there is always someone on duty but I just cannot find them. How am I going to track them down?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): There should always be the emergency button. It may be we have not got these on all stations yet. Certainly on the one occasion I have had to use them I got through instantly, because they are usually connected not to some local station but the nearest point with British Transport Police.

The thought has occurred to me whilst your question was being formulated that it might be an idea, on these remote stations, that we have a sign up with the mobile phone number of the member of staff, and that the person who is on duty each day at that station will always carry the mobile phone. A big clear sign so that even if you cannot see them, you can phone them. I shall go back to Tim O'Toole on that one.

John Biggs

The other part of my question then which is possibly from a Union perspective, you and I have, in different ways, done work with the T&G (Transport and General Workers' Union) down the years and the classic problem for bus drivers is that the wider world expects bus crews to push towards a policing role. That is clearly not their job, it makes them insecure and it does not address the problems.

Now I fully understand that among TSSA staff there will be a fear that people who have been doing very good jobs in the office are being pushed out onto the platform where they might have to deal with yobbish behaviour or challenging situations. What assurance are you giving to staff that they are going to be supported and trained and able to deal with such situations, and that their role is properly defined so they are not put into a vulnerable position?

The Mayor

Not only will they all get the training they need for their change of role, but year by year we build up the level of policing. We have now got in each of the outer boroughs - we are halfway through rolling it out - their 18 extra PCSOs to deal with transport. It seems to me that we should make certain that they are plugged in to deal with emergencies now in their areas as issues might come up, as well as the increase in British Transport Police. Of course, we have the whole TOCU (Transport Operational Command Unit) structure.

Perhaps having built these things up to fairly extensive numbers, it might be time that we now have a review to get better coordination from them so they can appear much more rapidly, whether it is at an underground station or an overground station, or the local bus station. Perhaps a quick emergency number that is dealt with locally might be the idea for this.

Bob Blackman

Four of these stations where the ticket office is not going to be open any more are in my constituency, and three of these are on either the Metropolitan or Jubilee lines. Both lines of course are getting substantial investment, which we welcome, but the concern is going to be that casual users of those lines, who use them to get to either Wembley Arena or Wembley Stadium or to get to the centre of London for the other tourist attractions, will now be discriminated against because there will not be a way of them buying tickets except through cash machines. Have you looked at that aspect, given the requirement for casual users to be able to get in and out of London?

The Mayor

They arrive at the station, there is a ticket machine that will sell them a ticket for cash - for coins or for notes - or for their credit card. Unless they are turning up with cowry shells or something, we can accommodate them. All the normal means of exchange we have got. It is always confusing the first time.

Bob Blackman (AM): What happens if those cash machines are not working?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): With the extra - I cannot remember how many it is now - 350 new machines we should be in a position where there is more than one machine. If a machine is not working, that is known to ticket inspectors, people can go through and say when they get to the other end, `There was not a ticket machine working at my one'. We always have the mechanism to know that.

Bob Blackman (AM): Canons Park, for example, is going to be one of the prime routes that people from outside London, I would suggest, use to park and then go to Wembley Stadium and to Wembley Arena, yet there will be no ticket office open. How do you account for that?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): There might very well be the case that if that is a problem to have somebody there to assist at the times where you have people flooding in and out to get to the Diana [Princess of Wales memorial] concert or something. Let us see how that works with the Diana concert. I will ask Tim O'Toole to have somebody there at Canons Park, because that will be the first massive use I suspect, and to see if there is a problem, then it is something we will have to adjust to.

I have often found, when I am in a foreign country and I am trying to buy a ticket at a machine I have never used before, it takes you a little time. The second time is fine, it is always just that first time; you press the wrong sequence of bloody buttons and have to start again.

We will have someone at Canons Park during the Diana concert to see how that works out. If it is a problem then, for those occasions when you do have a major event at Wembley, there is no earthly reason why we could not have a member of staff there helping people use the existing machine.

Bob Blackman (AM): Finally, can I just ask what consultation you carried out with public transport users before making this decision?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): I should imagine endless amounts but I have not got the detail here in the answer.

Bob Blackman (AM): Well I am informed none, and they are protesting about the fact that you did not.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): Oh right. Perhaps they should not whine so much all the time. We would be more interested in their views! That is only a joke! I shall find out why we did not consult them.

Bob Blackman (AM): I shall relay your views to them.

Brian Coleman

There are three in my constituency; West Finchley of course I use on a daily basis as it is at the bottom of the road I live in. I am the Councillor for the area including Totteridge and Whetstone Station. Particularly around West Finchley, over the years there have been many rumours of the station's imminent closure. For my residents living at Mill Hill East - where we have recently downgraded the Northern Line service in that it is now a shuttle from Finchley Central to Mill Hill East, rather than a through service, and with that hugely expensive viaduct to maintain - the highest point on the underground system - there are increasing suggestions that the closure of the ticket office is just another nail in the future of these two stations. Can you give me a categorical assurance that these two stations, West Finchley and Mill Hill East, are not being lined up for closure?

The Mayor

Whilst I live and breathe as Mayor they will not be. There are no secret plans being gestated. We are heading towards a system where usage on every line is increasing year by year by year. All that I am getting is Tim O'Toole coming to me with plans for what is happening, say, on the Hammersmith and City Line where over the next ten years we will double the number of trains. There is no part of the system we see winding down. The aim of the system is to bring people in.

Brian Coleman (Deputy Chairman): I would be happy to accept that, Mr Mayor, except that in the case of Mill Hill East, where usage is increasing and where there are plans for 2,000 new homes on the Inglis Barracks site, we have recently downgraded the service to a shuttle, instead of a through service on the Northern Line, and residents now have to go to Finchley Central. If you are disabled, you have to change platforms with no means of doing so, so disabled people cannot travel from Mill Hill East. The service has been downgraded already.

I can see the scenario where you get a £10 million bill for the viaduct repair and London Underground just say to you, `Look, we cannot justify this little branch line, let us shut it'.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): The reason for that was that to improve the reliability of the Northern Line trains they wanted to stop that split. It is exactly the same problem magnified 100 times at Camden Town, where the Northern Line crosses. I have not been briefed on it, but we had the near disaster of the person driving the train the wrong way. No one in their right mind would build the Northern Line again in the way they did. I have told Tim O'Toole that I wish to revisit urgently the plans for the separation of the Northern Line into two distinct lines.

There is no easy way out of this with that spur. I was not aware of the scale of the problem you talked about for people with disabilities. I will go and see whether there is anything we can do to mitigate that. It might very well be that in a situation - we are talking a decade away - if you could get two distinct Northern Lines then opening up the spur onto the main route again might be less of a problem because you have just got so many fewer things that can go wrong as you go south.

Elizabeth Howlett

Mr Mayor, I am really concerned about people who cannot get a ticket. TfL is not slow in getting people who are travelling on the Underground without a ticket in front of the courts. If the machine has broken down, you have just said in reply to another question that when they get to the end of their journey they can say, `Oh there was no ticket machine working' and TfL will investigate. How will they do that? Will they do that there and then? Will people have to leave their details so that they can be contacted later? Because, by golly, you move fast in the courts to get them in!

The Mayor

The ticket inspector should have the up to the moment data about which machines are not working on the line. Certainly, when I have been out with the ticket revenue people, they have that. They know that the machines are broken on the Jubilee Line or, say, in Kilburn Park or something like that. Certainly that is there. There will always be the time when it does not work, but you can always then go back and check.

Elizabeth Howlett (AM): Well I hope you are right.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): So do I!

Commitments - 3


Tracking down duty officer on tube stations

John Biggs (AM): If I am an ordinary bloke in Dagenham and I go to my station, I have a bit of a problem and I need some assistance, the information tells me that there is always someone on duty but I just cannot find them. How am I going to track them down?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): There should always be the emergency button. It may be we have not got these on all stations yet. Certainly on the one occasion I have had to use them I got through instantly, because they are usually connected not to some local station but the nearest point with British Transport Police.

The thought has occurred to me whilst your question was being formulated that it might be an idea, on these remote stations, that we have a sign up with the mobile phone number of the member of staff, and that the person who is on duty each day at that station will always carry the mobile phone. A big clear sign so that even if you cannot see them, you can phone them. I shall go back to Tim O'Toole on that one.

Difficulty of buying tickets for casual users where ticket offices have been closed.

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): They arrive at the station, there is a ticket machine that will sell them a ticket for cash - for coins or for notes - or for their credit card.......

Bob Blackman (AM): What happens if those cash machines are not working?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): With the extra - I cannot remember how many it is now - 350 new machines we should be in a position where there is more than one machine. If a machine is not working, that is known to ticket inspectors, people can go through and say when they get to the other end, `There was not a ticket machine working at my one'. We always have the mechanism to know that.

Bob Blackman (AM): Canons Park, for example, is going to be one of the prime routes that people from outside London, I would suggest, use to park and then go to Wembley Stadium and to Wembley Arena, yet there will be no ticket office open. How do you account for that?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): There might very well be the case that if that is a problem to have somebody there to assist at the times where you have people flooding in and out to get to the Diana [Princess of Wales memorial] concert or something. Let us see how that works with the Diana concert. I will ask Tim O'Toole to have somebody there at Canons Park, because that will be the first massive use I suspect, and to see if there is a problem, then it is something we will have to adjust to.

I have often found, when I am in a foreign country and I am trying to buy a ticket at a machine I have never used before, it takes you a little time. The second time is fine, it is always just that first time; you press the wrong sequence of bloody buttons and have to start again.

We will have someone at Canons Park during the Diana concert to see how that works out. If it is a problem then, for those occasions when you do have a major event at Wembley, there is no earthly reason why we could not have a member of staff there helping people use the existing machine.

Closure of Tube Ticket Offices

John Biggs (AM): If I am an ordinary bloke in Dagenham and I go to my station, I have a bit of a problem and I need some assistance, the information tells me that there is always someone on duty but I just cannot find them. How am I going to track them down?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): The thought has occurred to me whilst your question was being formulated that it might be an idea, on these remote stations, that we have a sign up with the mobile phone number of the member of staff, and that the person who is on duty each day at that station will always carry the mobile phone. A big clear sign so that even if you cannot see them, you can phone them. I shall go back to Tim O'Toole on that one.