Yesterday a bunch of overpaid public servants brought one of the World’s great cities to its knees.
The strike by Transport for London (TfL) Underground workers highlighted a few things to me.
I was in ‘town’ to have a meeting in Victoria. This meant an hour’s walk from Euston due to no tubes running.
The first thing that came to mind during my walk was how on earth we allow such a small amount of people so much control over millions of others.
By striking all the TfL workers did was make life very hard for millions of hard working Londoners simply trying to get to and from work.
The reason behind the strike is the move to reduce the number of staff behind ticket counters at stations.
Given the way many things we buy is now done digitally, especially travel tickets, I can’t see a problem. Do we really need people sitting behind a counter waiting for someone to come up and buy?
The TfL workers need to move with the times. If they were a private business they’d have to as they’d soon be out of business. (Exclude the debacle that is Southern Rail as that’s another blog altogether).
Tube staff are very well paid when compared to other public servants such as police officers, nurses and teachers.
They know they are a crucial cog in the machine that keeps the capital spinning, just like Police officers – and they seem delighted to exploit that when anything that might affect their cushy roles is suggested.
I’ve a simple albeit radical solution. In much the same way that Police officers can’t strike we should extend that law to public transport workers. If they aren’t agreeable to that – sack ‘em, there are plenty of others willing to step into those well paid, fully pensioned jobs.
Judging by the general conversations I heard on the train on the way back I think there’s a lot of public support for such measures – no one begrudges them being well paid as long as they did their jobs consistently.
But there was a positive that came out of the strike experience for me.
Walking to and from the meeting left me feeling physically tired (I need to shape up in 2017) in a good way, but it also gave me a chance to see how central London could work if large chunks of it were pedestrianised.
Pedestrianising (if there’s such a word) would encourage more walking and cycling in London. I love cycling but due to traffic worries I wouldn’t dream of doing it in central London.
Make only taxis, buses, police and emergency vehicles access the city centre freely.
Delivery vehicles would be allowed but I’m sure by getting people out of their cars this would have a big effect on how smoothly things run on the roads and people’s general well being.
But, and it’s a big but, any radical move like this would need to be supported by a fully functional, well oiled and committed public transport service which sadly we don’t currently have.
Thanks for reading,