The figures responsible for the furore were January’s monthly performance stats which Labour claim demonstrate that the tube is getting worse with more delays and disruptions, as Ken Livingstone stated yesterday;
‘The increasing delays on the Tube demonstrate that Boris Johnson hasn't got a grip, is out of touch and has failed to get on top of the detail of the transport system.'
This does seem rather a sweeping conclusion based on one month’s data, a point not ignored by Boris Johnson’s transport advisor Kulveen Ranger who fired back a broadside;
‘This is a totally misleading use of statistics. The hard work and focus of the mayor and London Underground has enabled us to regain control of the network by dismantling the PPP (Public Private Partnership), removing inefficiency and prioritising a lack of disruption.’
While Boris can claim to have grabbed the failing PPP by the scruff of the neck, the stranglehold of the unions on London’s transport system doesn’t seem to be any nearer to being resolved, leading to more delays and disruptions as everyone affected by last winter’s strikes can testify to. But is the tube really as bad as Ken claims? True, commuters have seen a lot of problems this year especially with the Victoria and Jubilee lines suffering as a result of ongoing improvement works, not to mention fare increases and the threat of cuts, but TfL says that figures for the whole network demonstrate a 7% decrease in delays.
With the Olympics and mayoral elections approaching, transport in the capital is one of the biggest and most high-profile political hot potatoes and especially during the Games, Boris will be uncomfortably aware of the world’s (and Ken Livingstone’s) beady eye on the tube.