Thursday, January 13, 2005

"Good service" - what does it mean?

Every station on the London Tube now displays a board that lists each tube line and a note that says "Good service" or "Delays". I've previously commented about how stupid it is to merely say "delays" and not to explain what the passenger is supposed to do. Today let us turn our beady eyes on the abuse of the phrase "good service".

It's not just the boards. They even have the gall to announce it. A typical announcement goes something like "There are delays on the Piccadilly and Central Lines and a good service on all other lines". Great. So what? Let us take last night as a standard example of LU doublespeak. Apparently a good service was operating on all lines. I waited a long time for a westbound Piccadilly to Ruislip. The first train was for Heathrow and was packed to the bilges. Another wait. Another Heathrow, also packed. At last a Ruislip, full enough that there were no seats (but I got one at Hammersmith).

According to LT's own timetable (not mine, I don't make these things up, honest), there should be a train at least once every three minutes. But last night there wasn't, and naturally the trains were ludicrously overcrowded.

Good service?

I disagree, with contumely. It's a poor service. Making people wait, without actually bothering to tell them when the next train is actually due, then making them travel jammed tight - this is not a good service and it defies belief that anyone can claim that it is.

I fear this is one topic to which I am certain to return.

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