Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Morning Ticket Trap

A regular occurrence, as observed again this morning on a rail journey from Nunhead to Elephant & Castle:

1. It's Monday morning, the busiest day of the week as many people will be renewing their weekly pass. Keep staffing levels low (one person ticket office) to ensure queues build up back to the top of the stairs for both the ticket office and the machine. Make changes to ticket machine so that some categories of tickets cannot be purchased on it, which can be purchased only at the office (*). Remove 'permit to travel' machine so that anybody who gets on a train without a ticket can be fined - even if they couldn't buy one in time to catch their train, despite leaving home early to allow a reasonable time to queue for one.

2. When people arrive at their destination ensure staffing levels are ludicrously high. Place a line of 14 transport police and ticket inspectors at the bottom of the stairs to greet people. This will ensure that the big crowd getting off the train end up being cramped on the stairs for some time while you let them out in a small dribble - hey it's not like they're in a hurry to get anywhere. The best bit is that some of the people won't have been able to buy a ticket, so you can then pull them to one side in front of hundreds of people, fine them and brand them a criminal. It's like shooting fish in a barrel.

Well I just about avoided this today. Having vowed that if I didn't get to the front of the queue by the time the train came I would take my chances without a ticket, I managed to buy one with seconds to spare. Others weren't so lucky.

(*) - When the train fares went up at the beginning of the month, the options on the ticket machine were changed. You can no longer select a return ticket with the option 'not London' on the machine so the minimum price of a ticket on the machine is more expensive than from the ticket office.


Anonymous said...

hear hear. I have always questioned why the train companies manage to supply staff to collect fines when they have such trouble supplying them to sell tickets. Of course the 'return' on staff salaries is much higher when you can a) pretty much guarantee to pick all the 'offenders' up at one or two stations and b) charge them a penalty fare which is higher than the cost of a ticket. I wasn't aware of the changes to the ticket machines, but it comes as no surprise that they have made buying a ticket even more difficult.

Anonymous said...

Boris the right wing Mayor has also cut 2,500 staff from London transport

just try getting a season ticket at a underground station

your told to go elsewhere or fobbed off

have you also noticed that the next bus signs are now totally out

lack of staff on stations also make them unsafe

we really nee to highlight this

Anonymous said...

And it seems there is nearly always an immigration officer or two amongst the gang at the bottom of the stairs. As there was when we had this little performance outside Goldsmiths. Nasty.