Survey shows public opposition to cuts and closures

London Underground has announced its schedule for closing every ticket office on the Tube network throughout 2015. You can view the schedule here.

Ticket offices at Chigwell, Embankment, Queensway, Roding Valley, South Wimbledon, Shepherd’s Bush, Temple, Theydon Bois and Upminster Bridge are first on the chopping block – although some of these have already been closed ahead of schedule.

Ironically, LU announced its plans round about the same time that London TravelWatch (the independent watchdog for Transport for London) reported on the findings of a survey of passengers it conducted from August 2014, which show significant public opposition to closures.

TravelWatch says that its earlier research, from 2013, “clearly demonstrated the strong feeling that passengers place significant value on the presence of ticket offices”. It says that data from its 2014 survey “indicates that ticket offices are more used by minority groups, and the loss of ticket offices could present a significant barrier to travel for the elderly and those who consider themselves to have disabilities in particular. Some passengers have also commented that they experience considerable difficulty in using ticket machines, especially if they have learning difficulties or dyslexia and the needs of these passengers will have to be further considered.”

It adds that ticket office closures must not be irreversible: “It must be easy for the system to be flexible. Whether a specific event causes significant extra demand, such as at Tower Hill for the poppy display, or a more long-term change such as Crossrail opening at Farringdon, London Underground must retain the capacity to increase both staffing and potentially restore a fixed location for information and ticket purchasing. The permanent conversion of ticket office facilities to retail outlets should not be something that is done in the near term. If the situation is that ticket offices are required at some point in the future then there must be an easy way to return to stations having these facilities.”

TravelWatch’s report on its findings can be found online here.

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