or ‘Vorsprung Durch Technik’, as advertising men speaking cod-German say.
I’ve just bought meself an Oyster Card – prompted largely by the announcement that the cash price of tube tickets is going up, but oyster tickets are coming down. I guess the plan is to get more people prepaying for tickets, topping up either automatically or online, and therefor not clogging up ticket-halls with huge queues, and getting people in and out of the tube network quicker. Either way, the price decrease is welcome, and the increase isn’t, so I’m getting an Oyster card.
And what’s more, Oyster cards make a great bleeping noise when you go through the barriers. Very satisfying.
Britain’s public transport is currently a shambles. Well, not all of it, but certainly the london tube, and the national rail system are nowhere near of the standard they could and should be. Both are pretty much crippled by PFI, or the threat of PFI… The selling off of the Tube was one of those things that nobody, save people managing investment portfolios, wanted. Everyone except the government recognises that what’s needed is huge investment, on a level that won’t be profitable to the tube enough for it to work under private investment. That’s because the benefits won’t be felt by the Tube itself. it will be of benefit to London, make it more attractive to tourists, render cars a pain the ass, and generally improve access for all Londoners, but the necessary renovations will cost billions of pounds.
And I haven’t even started on just how far short of the legal requirements for disabled access the Tube system falls. Somewhere less than 10% of the stations are wheelchair accessible. What it must be like traveling by tube for a disabled person I dread to think. There’s no way that the PFI funding is going to prioritise disabled access – there’s no money to be made in helping cripples get round London, of course. They can just get their mobility busses, and rely on friends to ferry them around. Clearly their independence means nothing in this most modern of modern capital cities.
Anyway, I will soon be Oyster-boy, swanning in and out of tube stations without a care in the world.
Soundtrack – KD Lang, ‘Ingenue’.by