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TfL's controversial red vests for its staff have been out for a little while now. So what's the consensus? Savvy idea, or face-palming blooper? Let's rate 'em out of five, on various criteria.
Initial response: The RMT union was immediately up in arms about the 'pathetic and 'ill-conceived' idea, while social media rang out with more mentions of 'dinner ladies' than the aftermath of Victoria Wood's death. Some of the staff affected voiced their feelings in no uncertain terms, one guard quipping that he was happy he was too big to fit in one. Probably didn't help that it was the eve of London Fashion Week either. Score: 1/5
Concept: The ticket office is dead, long live the gilets rouges! We could debate for hours whether TfL's wholesale nixing of ticket offices was inevitable or a heavy-handed swoop of the scythe. But you can't help but feel their heart was sort of in the right place, when they introduced the 'Here to help' vest. Tabard? Vest. Score: 3/5
Originality: Network Rail already has extremely similar popping red vests, as do sports stewards and photographers, Big Issue vendors, and nurses on drug rounds. Not sure any of these are reversible into emergency orange, though. Score: 2/5
Style: Wayne Hemingway, whose stylishy-detailed TfL polo tops are now masked in Postman Pat red, would have ripped his hair out, if he had any. Even TfL has failed to post a picture of the vests on its Instagram, perhaps fearing a backlash of vomming emojis. And we mentioned the whole dinner lady thing, didn't we. Turning the vests inside out hardly helps, either — suddenly it looks like you're en route to a sinking ship's nearest muster station. The grey trim frames the whole outfit in a single streak of sadness. Score: 0/5
Phrasing: It's not escaped our attention that it's written 'HERE', rather than 'HAPPY' to help. Although TfL's excellent staff always are happy to help, we know that some aren't exactly 'happy' to be sporting these things. Sensible move, TfL. Score: 5/5
Helpfulness: I mean, as full-time professional Londoners, we, like, NEVER have to ask for help. We certainly have noticed the staff out in the former ticket halls though. And they're helping people too. Happily. It's just that... well, we kinda thought they were doing that before, anyway. Score: 2/5
Final score: 13/30. Oh god. This is going to be another 'this bus is about to move' announcement snafu isn't it.
Images © TfL