Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Of Signs and Stress - 2

They are putting new electronic display boards at Waterloo and, to my great pleasure, some of them are going up in the entrance hall. There is a bank of three at the South Bank entrance. Only one is switched on (for the Northern Line) but I have reasonable hopes that the other two, for Bakerloo and Jubilee, will soon follow. These boards show the next 4 departures and represent everything I have always asked London Underground to deliver - clear and useful information at the point of entrance. Having info on the platform is vital, of course, but how much better to know the situation before you trek down the escalators and stairs and the interminable winding little corridors. And seeing the pattern of arrivals is much more helpful than the usual blether about "good service" or "minor delays".

Speaking of which, with "good service" shown on the TFL website for the Metropolitan, I got to Baker Street the other night to find a 13 minute delay to the next Uxbridge. Normal service at the peak is one train every 4 -6 minutes. I enquired of a bloke wearing LU uniform and holding a radio (I suppose he was part of the station staff but given that all he was doing was staring up at the indicator board like everyone else, who knows). Anyway he opined that such a delay was perfectly alright, a good service was operating and it would be unreasonable to report that there were delays every time there were delays. Yup, I can see his point. Why spoil everyone's day by telling them there are problems when really, there are none. Trains are running somewhere, are they not? It's a bit like a hospital refusing to report on the mortality rate from operations on the grounds that everyone dies , sooner or later, or the weatherman telling you not to worry, it's bound to be a nice day some time within the next three months.

I must get myself out of the habit of asking LU staff about service intervals. Over the years it has become plain that most of them don't really know and don't really care.

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