London Underground are failing to keep their promise of maintaining staff on stations when ticket offices are closed, London Travelwatch has found.
We are also committed to staff on all of our stations throughout the day to provide the best possible service for our customers
and TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy told Dave Hill in October 2010:
We don't intend ever to run stations with nobody on them. I want people on the gatelines and on the platform.
So when London Travelwatch started getting complaints from tube users of unstaffed stations they arranged a series of 'mystery shopper' visits. Just under half the stations had no visible staff on the gateline; sometimes unstaffed gates were left open – allowing the possibility of fare dodging – but on 21 occasions researchers found the gates closed and nobody around to offer help in case of a problem.
Nigel Holness, London Underground's network services director, told the BBC that London Underground
does not recognise the picture... Our independent research shows LU staff are present in ticket halls in 98% of visits
London Travelwatch's report also found that, weirdly, some ticket offices are open when they're supposed to be closed, and criticised inconsistent information signage and train information displays. On the other hand, they always found a working ticket machine and stations were clean and graffiti-free.
Another small detail that we found interesting: waiting times at ticket machines were sometimes noted to be longer than guidelines given to suburban rail operators. An anecdote on page 23 about people queueing at London Bridge on a Saturday afternoon (waiting times longer than standards, even after people gave up and left the queue) will be familiar to anyone who travels that way.