Photo by Andy Wilkes
The opposing mayoral candidates traded blame for recent disruptions which have made commuting even more dismal than usual, with Ken voicing his gripes; 'The Mayor of London has yet to explain to Londoners what action he is taking to improve services', and Boris citing the now-defunct Public Private Partnership for the recent chaos as well as placing the ball of responsibility firmly in Ken's court for 'spiralling budgets'. LLA Transport spokesperson Val Shawcross was firmly behind the former mayor: 'The Mayor has taken his eye off the ball on his key responsibility of keeping the Tube running.'
Only last year, Ken fired a tube-related salvo at Boris via The Times on how to deal with the unions and his latest attack again criticises the mayor over his refusal to meet with union representatives though just the year before in the very same newspaper, Ken was accused by head of London TravelWatch Brian Cooke of misleading the public over fares, ignoring public opinion and mishandling the tube system - the latter ironically the very same accusation levelled at Boris by Ken.
It has to be said that the list of problems over the last month which Ken Livingstone has published on his website is a depressingly familiar litany of suspensions, strikes, technical failures and over-running engineering works. But has Boris really failed to keep London moving? Bringing Tube Lines back under the TfL umbrella and putting an end to the PPP was certainly a major achievement for the long-term and removed the expensive barrel that the private sector had TfL (and consequently, tube travellers) over but it offers scant consolation when you're late for work yet again. On the other hand, Ken was also no stranger to problems with the tube.
The question is; will Ken convince Londoners that he can make things better in time for 2012 or is it, as Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London's transport adviser said yesterday, 'easy rhetoric and gall'?