Thursday, 21 March 2013

Another quickie

Journeying home yesterday, the tube was on time, but there were five minutes' worth of delays within TfL's zones on the connecting train from Waterloo to Hersham.  £12.50.

This morning, the train from Norbiton to Waterloo was two minutes late, causing me to take a later connecting tube to Edgware Road than planned.  This, however, arrived a minute early, so the overall delay remains at two minutes for another £5.

Seven minutes and £17.50 in total.

Fairly quiet on the news front again today, with most of what I see being endless repetitions of the tedious story that Kate Middleton received a 'baby on board' badge from TfL when she, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Bake Street tube station for some sort of event to mark 150 years of the tube.  (Which confuses me, because weren't all those celebrations over and done with weeks ago?)

I'm not linking to any of the stories because I don't want to encourage that sort of 'journalism'.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Just a quickie

My trip home yesterday was relatively uneventful.  The tube ran on time, but the train was four minutes late arriving at Hersham, all within the TfL network.

This morning, I left the car at Hampton Court station after dropping my daughter off at daycare.  The train from there to Waterloo was two minutes late.  The connecting tube was on time, but it was a later tube than the one I should have been able to get, so I arrived two minutes late overall.

No reason was given for any of these delays.

Since yesterday morning, that's a total of six minutes and £15.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Retail nightmare

So this is pretty cool: just posting this already means I've equalled the number of posts I wrote last week.  It can only get better from here!

Yesterday's journey home didn't go too well.  The 18:04 and the 18:07 from Edgware Road to Waterloo were too crowded to physically board, while the 18:09 didn't turn up (either that, or the 18:13 I did board was the delayed 18:09).  Got to Waterloo at 18:28, which would have been a minute late even had that train been the 18:13.  That's a 10-minute delay over the 18:04, and caused me to miss my connecting train to Hersham.  The next train arrived in Hersham seven minutes late, five of which were gained in the TfL network.  So, in all, I got to Hersham 34 minutes later than I should have.  That's £85.  No reason was given for the tube delay, though the tube driver did shout several times at people to stop leaning on the doors.  The train delays seem to have been due to 'a shortage of carriages'.  WTF?  Where did all the carriages go?  That was careless of South West Trains to lose them like that!

This morning, I caught the 08:20 from Norbiton to Waterloo after dropping my daughter off at the childminder's.  It was delayed over the course of the journey by 20 minutes, owing to speed restrictions in various places within TfL's network (not that I could hear the train driver's inaudible explanation).  I'm translating that to 'we're delayed because we're going slowly' - which, of course, was caused by earlier problems.  A bit of searching online has unearthed the reason 'problems found on the track', which I'm calling an electrical fault.

Needless to say, this caused me to take a later connecting tube to Edgware Road than I otherwise would have, itself one minute delayed.  All in all, I got to work this morning 33 minutes later than I should have for another £82.50.

Total delay since yesterday morning: 67 minutes; £167.50.

Elsewhere in TfL's own little universe, the Evening Standard reports on another ill-thought-out plan, this time to introduce more cafes and shops to tube stations.  What's wrong with this, you might ask, and I'm glad you did.  Here's my little list off the top of my head:
  1. Most stations are already severely overcrowded in rush hour.  Is it really a god idea to encourage people to linger and get in the way all the time?  TfL wants to emulate the success of such institutions in overground railway stations to raise additional revenue, but whatever else its faults, tubes run every few minutes.  You don't typically get people missing a tube and waiting half an hour for another one, so that sitting down in a cafe seems like a good idea
  2. Maybe the stations will get a huge revamp, so people aren't always in the way while sipping their new coffees?  OK, but that means months - if not years - of building works inconveniencing all customers.  Also, who's going to pay for the redevelopment?  That's right, you and me.  And somehow I doubt that, even if the additional revenue exceeds TfL's wildest dreams, we'll see recompense in the form of falling ticket prices.  No, there'll always be new update works to do.  I've an idea: how about spending the money earmarked for retail development on improving the service instead?
  3. Indications are that there are no plans to greatly enhance the size of stations to accommodate the cafes and shops.  Instead, TfL is going to rip out the ticket offices because, since the arrival of the Oyster card, ticket office use is down 65%.  So obviously, the 1/3 of passengers who do use the ticket offices don't need this service, right?  Chances are, most of those 35% are tourists, and while it's tempting to say 'stuff them', tourism is a major source of income for the capital and, indeed, the country.  TfL are happy to make life difficult for them, thus increasing the chances they won't come here anymore, thus helping to plunge the economy ever deeper into its death spiral
  4. I had more, but I've forgotten them whilst getting angry writing the previous three points
That's it for now, except to leave you with this week's Tube Bingo card to date. 

Have a fun day, everyone!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Mind the gap

The gap (in posting) was this time caused by a nightmare morning on Thursday that involved hideous traffic and forgotten laptops.  I elected to work from home in the end, and did the same Friday (as I usually do), thus causing Signal Failure's (lack of) service to rival TfL's! 

Apologies.  Let's get you all caught up.  Wednesday evening's journey home consisted of a one-minute-delayed Bakerloo Line to Waterloo.  It did not cause me to miss my connecting train to Hersham, so I can only charge for the six-minute delay in that service, all accrued within TfL's zones.

This morning, I dropped my daughter off at childcare and took the train from Norbiton to Waterloo, something I am exceptionally grateful for, since I see on South West Trains' web site that there are delays of up to 45 minutes on my usual line from Hersham to Waterloo, owing to 'icy conditions'.  Presumably, this is the same ice that bedecked my car's windscreen - so solid I didn't even need to scrape it off, just passed the windscreen wipers over it once.  I'm amazed I survived this harrowing ordeal.

But I did not escape entirely unscathed: I lost five minutes on that initial train journey, causing me to take a later connecting tube to Edgware Road than planned, itself delayed by a further two minutes - both times apparently due to nothing more than moving exceptionally slowly.  In all, this made me five minutes late.

So, since last week, a total delay of 11 minutes for £27.50.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A lot to cover

Sorry for the lack of updates: work and life have been busy in the offline world.  Bonus for you is a bumper crop of updates!

Monday morning, the train from Hersham to Waterloo was a minute late.  The connecting Northern Line tube to Leicester Square (I had a long meeting in Covent Garden) was on time.  Coming back, the tube was a minute early, but this didn't affect the train I could take, which was on time.

Yesterday, I took the train from Norbiton to Waterloo (four minutes late) and the Bakerloo Line to Edgware Road (one minute late: six minutes late overall if I could have taken the tube I would have had the train been on time).  Going home, the first tube was too overcrowded to physically get onto, and the next a minute late (making me four minutes late overall.  The train was on time, and was the one I would have got onto anyway, so no charge for the earlier delay.

This morning, I took the same route in as yesterday.  The train was three minutes late, the tube four - seven minutes late overall if the train had been on time and I'd been able to catch an earlier tube.

So, since the last update, that's 13 minutes and £32.50

In the news recently, TfL boss 'Sir' Peter Hendy is busy gloating about his knighthood for managing to get TfL to work properly over the Olympic period (what about the rest of the time?).  Without even getting started on the cheapening of the knighthood institution (as if it needed more cheapening) by doling them out to people for doing a couple of weeks' good work, the gall of the man is incredible.  Describing his own rise from bus conductor 37 years ago, he glibly tells 'young Londoners' that he sees no reason why they can't accomplish as much as he has too.  I couldn't have put it better myself, though at least he had the decency to recognise it was other people's hard work that got him the knighthood, even if he didn't do the decent thing and refuse it for that reason.

If you're an app developer, or aspiring one, you could enter TfL's not-at-all-a-PR-stunt competition to develop an 'accessibility' app for the TfL network.  Of course, if TfL really cared about making the network more accessible, it would talk to the affected people, build up specs, and commission professionals to just do the work.

And finally, another story about TfL blighting the landscape to line its own pockets with nary a thought for locals.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Incomplete journeys, people under trains, and the crusade against pavement advertising

A minute's delay on the tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo didn't cause me to miss my connection to Hersham, which ran on time.  No score draw.  Interestingly, the delay on the Bakerloo Line was described as 'severe' and owing to a person under a train as reported here, but as regular readers will know, this length of delay or longer is pretty much the norm for my journey on this very line.  It's never even been mentioned before, which leads me to the conclusion that any kind of incident is automatically reported as a delay as some sort of self-protection mechanism, regardless of whether the service is actually affected or not.  By contrast, if there's no incident, delays of pretty much any length are pretended not to have happened.

What else have I got for you today?  Well, there's the news (to me at least) that more than 54,000 journeys a week on TfL's network are never resolved as incomplete, meaning that those journeys are charged the maximum fare.  Granted, some of them may be deliberate fare dodgers, but the majority are likely not to be.  TfL goes out of its way to protect this revenue stream, refusing to answer Freedom of Information requests on technicalities.  Eventually, last year, they did introduce a way for those who've registered their Oyster card details online to check for incomplete journeys, but they were careful not to publicise this, and the web site doesn't alert you to an incomplete journey - you have to go in regularly and check.  The good news is you can now sign up to and get those notifications: don't let TfL steal money to which it's not entitled!

On the other hand, TfL earns my appreciation for crusading against pavement billboards.  They're always in my way - and being a marketer by profession, I have a higher tolerance than most for intrusive advertising, so when they piss me off, it's time for them to go.  Of course, the 'health and safety' reason TfL's given for this crusade is bullshit, but that's by the by.  It would be nice to see them simply say they're fucking annoying and have to go, but that's political correctness for you.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

TfL doesn't care what you think

A minute's delay last night on the tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo left me pegging it for the connecting train to Norbiton to avoid leaving my daughter forlorn at the child minder's, but I managed it, super sportsman that I am.  The train arrived in Norbiton two minutes late to net Signal Failure another fiver.

This morning's train from Hersham to Waterloo, by contrast, ran on time, but the connecting tube to Edgware Road was a minute late again.  £2.50. 

So that's three minutes and £7.50 in total since yesterday morning.

Elsewhere in the wacky world of TfL, the organisation we love to hate is inviting suggestions for how to improve its service.  But not from you, since customers couldn't possibly have anything useful to say on the matter.

I reported a couple of days ago how TfL was being urged to stop people travelling, and scoffed at the idea of selling them on that idea.  Seems I scoffed to soon, since Boris has confirmed a part time travel card will be considered.  Of course, the key word there is 'consider', which means precisely fuck-all.  It's a nice way of pretending to look at a suggestion before rejecting it.  Still, I've been wrong before (I think once when I was seven years old), so I'll suspend judgement for the moment.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Well played, TfL

The tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo last night was a minute late.  Didn't cause me to miss the connecting train to Hersham, though, so I won't charge for it.  I will charge for that train being a minute late, however.  £2.50.

This morning, the train from Hersham actually arrived in Waterloo four minutes early.  This allowed me to get an earlier connecting tube to Edgware Road, which ran on time, so I arrived three minutes early at my final destination (work).

Taken together, that means I have to refund TfL £5.  Well played, TfL.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

TfL urged to stop people from travelling

Yesterday's tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo was on time.  The connecting train from Waterloo to Norbiton was one minute late.  £2.50.

This morning's train from Norbiton to Waterloo was seven minutes late.  The connecting tube from Waterloo to Edgware Road was one minute late.  This made me six minutes later over all than I should have been, could I have taken the connecting tube I was scheduled for by Journey Planner.

On to other things: there's an interesting article today about how TfL should do more to encourage working from home, and to make commuting more affordable for part-time workers.  I haven't read the full scope of this report, which is available for download, but the main recommendation appears to be a three-day-week travel card.  I'd love that personally, as it would fit right in with my working lifestyle (at the moment, a season ticket or paying one-off fees is much of a muchness to me, so the cost savings could be brilliant).

However, I do find the overall concept quite amusing.  Essentially, they're trying to recommend that TfL discourage passengers from spending so much, or at least to incentivise them to spend less on TfL, which amounts to much the same thing.

While I'm obviously all for bashing TfL, given that it's a business which makes money from selling travel tickets, I'm not sure how the Conservative group on the London Assembly thinks it can sell this gem of an idea...

Monday, 4 March 2013

I've figured out a new way to make money from TfL!

Happy Monday everyone!

My train from Hersham to Waterloo this morning suffered a one minute delay for no particular reason, and my connecting Bakerloo Line to Edgware Road was three minutes late.  A three minute delay to my final destination in total for £7.50.  Fairly uneventful, really.  At least by TfL's standards.

Elsewhere this fine and frosty Monday morning, Signal Failure has learned that TfL is sitting on £53m of unused fares: you lot have some 19 million Oyster cards lying around with credit on them.  You've already paid TfL, so you can still travel with that credit (as they thankfully don't expire if they're pay-as-you-go), or you can get the money refunded.

Also, I have a mortgage to pay, so you could always consider just sending any Oyster cards you find to me and I'll claim the refund and use it to pay off my mortgage.  £53m ought to just cover it.  Maybe even with a little left over for some improvement works.  Tidy.

Friday, 1 March 2013

The runaway train went down the hill...

Yesterday''s tube from Edgware Road to Waterloo arrived a minute early!  Needless to say, that enabled me to get my connecting train to Norbiton to pick my daughter up from the childminder.  That train was also a minute early arriving.  Touché, TfL.  Touché.

More strikes on the underground, this time the security staff.  Great.

London Underground have also been fined £300,000 for trying to kill passengers.  A 39-tonne maintenance waggon got out of control and smashed through seven stations, coming within yards of hitting a packed tube train.

Everyone thinks I'm exaggerating when I say TfL is evil.  Will you listen now?