Big Debate: Are TfL and Boris Johnson right to close Tube ticket offices?

Transport for London is scrapping ticket offices but says assistance will still be available (Pic by

Transport for London is scrapping ticket offices but says assistance will still be available (Pic by Nick Ansell/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

This week we ask whether Boris Johnson is right to scrap Tube station ticket offices.

Left, TfL's Nick Brown (Pic by TfL) and, right, TUSC candidate Lois Austin

Left, TfL's Nick Brown (Pic by TfL) and, right, TUSC candidate Lois Austin - Credit: Archant

In a bid for further modernisation, Transport for London (TfL) is scrapping ticket offices at Tube stations across the capital. The resulting redundancies have caused outrage from activists who oppose the cuts on the basis of job losses but also due to fears of accessibility for the disabled. But TfL says that, despite redundancies, more staff will be on-hand around stations than ever before and that this will bring more effective assistance. For our Big Debate this week, we ask: “Are Tfl and Boris Johnson right to close the Tube’s ticket offices?”

To share your views simply vote in our poll, leave your comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Or you can contact Sebastian Murphy-Bates at and 020 8477 5802, or send a letter in to

Nick Brown, London Underground’s chief operating officer

People – our customers and our staff – are at the centre of our approach to customer service.

That’s why this year we are modernising our stations, with more staff visible and available to offer assistance to customers where it is needed most.

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There are now more than 40 Tube stations operating without a ticket window and customers are seeing improvements across the network.

This includes more of our staff to help customers in ticket halls, at gate lines and on platforms.

We already have, and will always have, staff at every station whenever trains are running.

To help prepare them for their roles, this year all our station teams are undertaking a new and comprehensive training programme.

At stations we have improved ticket machines to allow customers to make all the transactions they need – including refunds – with our staff on hand to help.

Moving with the times, people can also use our services without any cash transaction, using contactless bank cards, Oyster cards and telephone and online services.

We’re also improving information, with dedicated areas for maps and leaflets, and improvements to signage.

Staff are being given mobile devices packed with maps, real-time service updates, our Journey Planner, ticket options and more – so they’ll have this vital information at their fingertips.

Dozens of ticket halls are operating without a ticket office, and early signs show new arrangements work well.

Our passengers using stations without ticket offices are tell us they are more satisfied with the experience and with the staff, who are more available and more helpful under our new customer service model.

As we make these changes we will keep focused on our core promises to customers: more staff on hand to help, better information to help plan and make journeys and a range of ways to pay to suit all needs.

Louis Austin, TUSC candidate for East Ham

Closing ticket offices is an austerity measure which will see 750 front line staff being made redundant and worse services for travellers.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson seems to believe in the impossible: that fewer staff can offer more customers help with travelling.

Open ticket offices make stations safer and more accessible for people who can’t use the ticket machines.

Older and disabled passengers are expected to be most affected, with fewer staff to ask for help.

Guide dogs are trained to take blind people to ticket offices for help – where will the dogs take their owners now?

More stations will have longer periods without any staff, making assaults far more likely – who will be there to respond to accidents?

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) believes in a safe and affordable transport system and that a journey starts with being able to get the right ticket with the help of staffed ticket offices.

As stations and ticket halls get busier, we need to see an increase in staff to keep passengers safe – not a reduction.

If there’s one cut TUSC would agree with on the underground, it would be a cut to the six-figure salaries of 328 Transport for London managers and directors.

Fares are already too high and yet London Underground is underfunded compared to other big cities such as New York.

TUSC supports all the action that has taken place to try and save ticket offices.

We have joined and organised protests outside stations in opposition to the cuts and closures.

Let’s make sure Boris’s broken promise haunts him – along with the photograph of him in 2008 pledging to keep ticket offices open.

Boris Johnson is yet another politician who has gone back on his word, who wants to sack staff and make our transport system worse.

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