The closing date for the part time TOps job has moved to 11pm Tuesday 5 January so obviously the response to the offer has not been as high as expected. In an interview with the FT published yesterday Mike “Brown” Brown was asked about the funding gap created by George Osborne’s spending review which over the next five years will leave TfL short of an estimated £2.8bn or £4bn depending on whether you believe him or the GLA transport committee.
He trumpets their grandiose plans to build homes and offices over depots and stations, what I like to think of as the “Railtrack” approach, predicting that this will raise £3.4bn over the next ten years. He admits that some projects could be cancelled but they will try to find ways to make others cheaper which is bitterly amusing as LU’s track record of doing things cheaply is less than stellar. One fine example is the current dog’s dinner they’ve made of resignalling the SSLs which Mike Brown knows all about as when Bombardier were awarded the contract in June 2011 he was managing director of LU.
On Night Tube he said “I am not going to just pour money to sort out disputes. That may have historically been what has happened in this place but it’s not going to happen anymore because it can’t. I don’t have the money”. As TSSA revealed this time last year LU’s own estimation was that Night Tube will lose £19.6m in its first year of operation and isn’t expected to break even for 17 years. If that estimate was calculated using the original plan with existing TOps working nights and accepting their first “final” pay offer then it’s safe to assume that figure has gone up a bit.
I know £19.6m isn’t much but if Mike Brown is looking at ways of saving money cancelling Night Tube would a good start, we can forget all the changes to life/work balance with bonuses for this or that and get on with sorting out a straight forward pay deal. Telling Joanna Lumley she can pay for her own Garden Bridge would be another and selling the Cable Car as scrap metal would probably raise more money than it costs to run it. Sadly we can’t do much about the Borisbus, we’ll be lumbered with those until they rust because nobody else is stupid enough to want a bus with three doors, two staircases and are so heavy they can’t legally be at full capacity.
I actually had the misfortune to get on one, a 73 going down Oxford Street, on my way from having a gander at the new TCR (impressed) to Marylebone Farmer’s Market (the only place I know where I can get Crispins which Old Mother shrugged swears make the best baked apple). I went upstairs and can confirm the reports that the roof is very low, the windows are small and the general ambience is pretty gloomy compared to other top decks. When I got to my stop I went down the rear stairs and it was only when the door opened that I noticed that this was one of the “new” NB4L with a normal “plug” door at the back instead of the sliding door, pole or rear platform.
Boris may have only four months left as mayor but we’ll be paying for his incompetence for many years to come.
Happy New Year, folks, vote Sadiq!