Friday, 31 August 2012

A Parable of success

A couple of weeks back, when I wrote about accessibility on the London Underground, I figured that - like most questions about TfL, its workings, its sense of ethics and fair play, etc. - I'd never really see any kind of official follow up to any of the points I tried to draw attention to.

I'm very pleased today to say that I was wrong about that: not that my efforts accomplished anything, but
"We want to keep them [the manual tube boarding ramps] and are looking now at how that will work after the Paralympics," a [TfL] spokesman said.
Reading that, you'd almost think TfL wanted to help its handicapable customers out, wouldn't you?  However, let's not forget some key sentences and facts elsewhere in the story, which I think are more illuminating of what's really the case.  For example:
However, there was one problem - the ramps were originally seen as "temporary" and Transport for London (TfL) only said they would look at their use beyond the Games "if" they were popular.
However, after pressure from campaigners and the media, TfL confirmed to Channel 4 News that the ramps are now set for a more permanent future in London.
(Ignoring for the moment the piss-poor writing style of having two consecutive one-sentence paragraphs that clearly shouldn't have been split in the first place {and therefore two consecutive sentences} both beginning with the word 'however',) the ramps were only ever intended as temporary and TfL was frankly hoping they could do away with them.  If this wasn't the case, why couldn't they have used some of the millions they invested in making for a more permanent solution in the first place?  Hmm?  And please note it required pressure from campaigners and the media to make them do the decent thing.  "We want to keep them."  Puh-lease!

You can also see the evidence in the language used by pressure group Transport for All's director, who refers to winning on the issue, and to the next battle.  And what about TfL's extraordinary claim that the ramps could be rolled out to 30 more stations?  Where the fuck are they now then, during the Paralympics?  Did we not invest enough money into staff salaries again?

Still, kudos to staff so far on the ramps for their positive attitudes:
Rather than having to pre-book the ramps, tube staff assisted users with ramps when asked and then called ahead to the destination station to ensure a member of staff was waiting for the passenger when they disembarked.
I am actually impressed by that.  I just wonder how long that attitude will continue if it becomes part of their everyday jobs, rather than a special effort given in return for extra bonus pay and because perhaps, just perhaps, the person you're helping is something important to do with the Paralympics and you don't want to get in trouble.

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