To the surprise of nobody in Wapping Transport for London (TfL) intends to close the ticket office at Wapping Overground station.
You can see the full list of excuses on the board just inside the station entrance and in the photograph below.
Staff can help more customers if not in the ticket office says TfL
Some of the excuses (not reasons, there is a difference) for the closure by TfL are because more customers use Oyster and contactless to pay for their tickets, there is more use of self-service ticket vending machines and more people use the TfL app to buy tickets.
TfL concludes that as fewer tickets are sold from the ticket office itself “we believe our staff would be better placed to help more customers if they were not in the ticket office”.
Guess what TfL? Ticket offices are not just about selling tickets.
Make your views known by 12th October
You have until 12th October to make known your views on this latest idiocy.
By post: London Travelwatch, 169 Union Street, London, SE1 0LL
By email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info: www.londontravelwatch.org.uk
First Wapping Station staff were told they could not be in the ticket office itself but had to mainly be outside.
Now the plan is to close the ticket office. The staff will remain but will ‘be more visible and accessible in the station and will be able to provide you with better assistance’.
Unless you want help buying a ticket. In which case you are stuff.
What’s next? Whatever it is we can all be sure that it will have little if anything to do with the needs of customers at Wapping Station.
Maybe TfL will decide that because their staff are now condemned to wander the platforms this means that their numbers can be cut? Maybe to just one for each platform? Or just one for the whole station?
Or maybe TfL will decide to do away with all station staff as, in their opinion, the ticket machine can do everything that people can do?
Ambassadors for Wapping
What this latest scheme ignores is the fact that there are a significant number of overseas visitors who come to Wapping year round.
Many of these people will want to talk to a person in a ticket office for advice.
Wapping also hosts an increasing number of events at Tobacco Dock and large numbers of people from both abroad and the UK use the Overground to visit these events.
Call us old fashioned but we like to think that Wapping should always be helpful to visitors and closing the ticket office goes against this belief.
It could be argued that the Wapping Station Overground staff are ambassadors for Wapping as they are often the first people visitors meet.
The proposal also ignores the huge accessibility issue at Wapping Overground – the lifts do not reach the platforms. To our amazement mums and dads still battle with the stairs to the platforms but the station is effectively off limits to wheelchair users or the those who have difficulty with steps.
Rumours occasionally surface of the possibility of a proper wheelchair friendly lift being installed at the station but nothing ever happens.
TfL would be better advised to fix big problems like this before getting rid of the ticket office.
Hard work counts for nothing
We are exceptionally lucky to have station staff at Wapping who are incredibly helpful and take pride in providing an excellent level of service. The lovingly maintained plants outside and the Christmas decorations inside are a testimony to their hard work.
That seems to count for nothing.
We suggest you download the London Travelwatch Review of ticket office closures on the London Underground – the passenger perspective report from 2016.
This is quite an interesting read as it details the failings of the previous round of ticket office closures before passengers were consulted.
Here are a couple of quotes:
“Our research has shown some change in passengers’ perceptions of safety since the closures, with passengers stating that their feelings of safety are strongly related to staff presence. 45% (1,715 respondents) of the London TravelWatch survey, and 17% (150 respondents) of the survey conducted by the GLA’s Talk London Panel stated they feel less safe in ticket halls now than they did a year ago.”
“The lack of visible staff has implications for passenger feelings of safety. Across our research, passengers cited being able to see staff as fundamental to their feelings of safety when using the Underground. Staff should be deployed on stations so that they are visible to passengers, and therefore able to assist passengers where necessary.”
Hmm… Maybe TfL could put staff in the ticket office but call it a ‘Multi-Modal Train User Visitor Reassurance Hub’?