Monday, March 30, 2009

The London tube

A man who, beyond the age of 26, finds himself on a bus can count himself as a failure.

Margaret Thatcher

First of all, let me say that I'm not a huge fan of public transportation. However, I don't mind using it every now and then as long as it is reasonably priced and efficient.

I was in London this weekend, and I can tell you that the public transportation system in London is neither. It's expensive, and the constant closing of lines for maintenance makes it a nightmare to get from one part of the city to another. "Sorry, that line's closed today, so you'll have to find this and that bus to take you here and there". The bus ride takes forever, and you're lucky if you get off at the correct bus stop.

Anyway, this is all small potatoes compared to the tube, which I had the misfortune of using several times this weekend. First of all, it's ridiculously crowded, at virtually all times of the day, every day of the week. You'd think the good people of London have nothing better to do than hanging out there. As if the struggle to get to the actual train isn't frustrating and time-consuming enough (you have to walk an average of 25 kilometers, in an endless and slow-moving line of people, to get from the tube entrance to the train platform), imagine my surprise when I realise that the halfwit of a train driver doesn't even look to see if people are still boarding before he shuts the doors and leaves one half of a company behind on the platform, while the other half embarks on a journey of discomfort, squeezed together in a tiny, noisy and smelly tin can. Bon voyage.

Of course, driving a car in London is no good either, unless you've got money burning holes in your pockets. The former mayor of the city, notorious car-hater and left-wing activist "Red Ken" Livingstone saw to it that motorists travelling to London now have to pay a congestion charge of £8 per day, adding up to £40 for a work week, and around £2000 a year! Thank you so bloody much, Mr. Livingstone.

Funny thing is that this Ken Livingstone didn't impose a congestion charge on the tube while he was at it. It's just as hazardous to your health as the car congestion - if not more!

I guess, basically, London has become too large for its own good, as there is no way to get around in that city in a comfortable and efficient manner. As a tourist I can brush it of as an annoyance, but as a citizen of London...well, I guess that's why I could never move there.

1 comment:

  1. A citizen knows not to bother on a weekend. Apart from that the Tube is great. Thanks for crediting the photo.