Tube must justify its cost

Tube must justify its cost

From Tuesday evening till Friday morning earlier this month, London came to a halt because of a railway strike. The 48-hour Tube strike, organised by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union and Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, delayed people from getting to work or school or simply "stopped them in their tracks".

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimated the strike would cost the British capital's economy £50 million (HK$646 million) a day.

The work stoppage was in protest against Transport for London's (TfL) plan to close all ticket offices, which could lead to 1,000 job losses. However, TfL argues the plan would save £50 million a year. It comes at a time when London's transport network is changing in a big way. From 2015, the Tube will run a 24-hour service on weekends and buses will become cashless this summer, thanks to the Oyster card.

Still, coming from Hong Kong, London's transport network seems inefficient. Bus services are irregular, while signal failures on the Underground are common.

With fares rising above the inflation rate, the network needs to justify that increase in cost - especially when further strikes are in the pipeline.

London has already looked to the MTR model to go forward. Now it needs to deal with the unions to meet that vision and justify the cost to commuters.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Tube must justify its cost

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