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Machines can’t take place of helpful station ticket office staff

19 October, 2018

• IS a ticket office a profit centre or a help centre? Should vulnerable passengers be treated as customers or trespassers?

Transport for London and Arriva are making it quite clear that visitors and vulnerable people are no longer welcome at their stations unless they are able and willing to “embrace” modern, impersonal technology, (Station ticket office closures anger pensioners, October 12).

Arriva is complaining that some of its ticket offices sell fewer than 12 tickets an hour. Those of us who prefer human contact will be forced to use machines whether we like it or not. This means that Arriva is prepared to alienate up to 12 of us an hour.

There is no mechanical substitute for a well-trained, helpful and knowledgeable member of staff at a well-signed counter and I am always prepared to queue for this personal service.

These employees can absorb problems like machine failure, insufficient coinage and risk of pickpocketing. They are invaluable but their bosses are in denial about this and would rather cause their customers extra stress and frustration.

I was hoping to put these points across in the recent online consultation, but there were no options for general comments. The survey was designed to gag all customers without a regular route from a specific station, so any findings from it will be flawed. My only hope is that TfL will listen to councillors and other protesters.

I had always assumed that the purpose of public transport was to liberate individuals from operating machines and to make things as easy as possible for commuters and visitors alike. Sadly, those days could soon be over in a culture that is characterised by gadgetry and social isolation.

IAN SHACKLOCK
Monsell Road, N4

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