Boris Bans Bus (and Tube) Drinking

drinking banned on public transport

He may be new to office, but that hasn’t stopped new mayor Boris Johnson from jumping in with both feet and whipping London into a more Boris-pleasing shape. As of Sunday 1st June, there will be no drinking on all London public transport. Well, no drinking alcohol, that is. (Can you imagine if Boris banned drinking water on the tube? Every other passenger would be fainting come summer.) But there will be no open alcohol containers allowed on the tube, buses or DLR from 1st June.

Boris had this to say about the big decision:

I’m determined to improve the safety and security of public transport in London and create a better environment for the millions of Londoners who rely on it. I firmly believe that if we drive out so called minor crime then we will be able to get a firm grip on more serious crime. That’s why from June 1st the drinking of alcohol will be banned from the tube, tram, bus, and Docklands Light Railway.

Apparently drinking on the tube leads to major crime. We really had no idea. But we suspect that the roots of banning drinking on public transport come from a slightly different place.

As Don Shenker, from Alcohol Concern, said,

Taking a firm approach to public drinking in this way sends a strong message that public drunkenness is socially unacceptable and will support both the public and transport staff.

And we think that’s the point – it’s not public drinking Boris thinks is the problem. It’s public drunkenness. After all, problems on the tube aren’t caused by someone opening their first beer of the night, they’re caused by someone drinking their twentieth. And that person was likely going to cause a problem regardless of whether or not they were holding that open beer in their hand.

We’re not really opposed to the ban, as we can’t see it negatively affecting anyone, but we’re wondering where it’s leading. What’s next, Boris? A ban on public drunkenness? Because we think that will be a lot harder to control. This is London, after all.

Tags: , , ,

  • polo_o

    I don’t see why drinking has been banned, if drunk people are the problem, there’s already laws for drunk and disorderly conduct, why not just enforce them instead if bringing out another law.

    Way to go Boris.

  • eas_e

    I agree with Polo. We don’t need yet another law. Enforcement of drunk and disorderly should suffice. However, I have to admit that seeing someone drink alcohol on the tube or bus makes me really anxious and it just puts me on guard. If he’s going for a cosmetic effect, then he’ll get that. Will it decrease crime… probably not.

  • colinio

    I’ve been in London as a student since I was 18 and didn’t feel the need to drink on a tube or bus journey. Most journeys are under 30 minutes, if you really need to imbibe during that time whilst you’re by yourself you should perhaps see a doctor. In a group it is different but it can be intimidating to other passengers. And the spillages and broken glass on tube trains on a Saturday night aren’t pleasant.

    I am sure it will be difficult to enforce but this way at least it will be rendered even more socially unacceptable than it is already. Just like smoking, playing with yourself and eating fried chicken (separately or at the same time…)

  • xerode

    Will this achieve anything? Like a lot of legislation it’ll bother the otherwise law abiding, while those who

    Who will Police it? Oh, those new conductors that have yet to materialise (or even be targeted in a recruitment drive) that Boris promised.

    Can’t wait for the Circle Line party on the May 31st though – seems like large parts of London have had the same idea, as 3 distinct groups of my friends have all announced their intentions to do so.

  • xerode

    Reposted as I forgot to complete a sentence!

    Will this achieve anything? Like a lot of legislation it’ll bother the otherwise law abiding, while those who don’t care about the law will continue to drink – and could they be ones more likely to commit the crimes that have prompted this law?

    Who will Police it? Oh, those new conductors that have yet to materialise (or even be targeted in a recruitment drive) that Boris promised.

    Can’t wait for the Circle Line party on the May 31st though – seems like large parts of London have had the same idea, as 3 distinct groups of my friends have all announced their intentions to do so.

  • dePfeffel

    I like the strapline on the poster: “Making everyone’s journey more pleasant”. Nice and old-fashioned. I hope this is a sign of things to come from our lovely new Mayor – next up we need a serious campaign to stop kids playing music out loud on their rubbish-sounding mobiles. That drives me to drink, that does. I suggest Boris hires covert string quartets trained to play incessant sonatas at oiks who refuse to stop their tinny terrorising on the top deck.
    Poster campaign slogan: “Children should be seen and not heard.”

    Forward to the 1950s with Boris!
    Hurrah!

  • DeanN

    “Making everyone’s journey more pleasant”… that’s certainly not true for the alcoholics, is it? Why are we discriminating against these poor unfortunates?

    On June 1st I’m gonna jump on the Circle Line with a cigar, a six-pack of White Lightning, a boombox with the latest RnB riddims on rotation and a swagbag of porn mags and see how long it takes before somebody raises a contrary eyebrow.

  • Siany

    there will of course be a Londonist photographer with Dean and a very interesting post will follow.

  • James Morris

    Totally unenforceable. The behaviour that Boris is trying to target with this proposal won’t be affected in any way whatsoever; I sincerely doubt that a bus driver is going to be willing to take on a group of drunken people sitting at the back of the bus each with a can of beer.

    Similarly, there is simply no way to enforce this on the tube. Sure, it is clear if someone comes into the station with an open can of beer, but it is hardly something that can be enforced on each and every tube train, there simply isn’t the manpower to do it.

    If – and that is a big if – this is effective in preventing people from drinking beer or wine on the tube – not that I have ever seen anyone drinking the latter – then it seems to me that people can just switch to spirits; half a bottle of coke mixed with a sizeable amount of vodka has the same effect, doesn’t look like alcohol and can easily be resealed.

    All I can see this doing then is making more problems for the people who run the transport system as it puts a greater onus on them to regulate public behaviour. That’s the job of the police, not the bus driver or tube operator.