London’s transport is broken

Lewisham at Rush HourSometimes a break can let you see things with new eyes. I haven’t commuted into or out of London by train for over three months now, and a blessed change it’s been. However, today an appointment in London in the morning and one in Sutton in the afternoon necessitated me abandoning the car and commuting by train once more.

My goodness, what an eye-opener it was. After nine years of train commuting, I’d got used to it. After a short break, I saw it with new eyes. I saw the utter filth of London Bridge station. I saw the people crushed into cattle trucks. I smelt the fast food and the perfume and the body odor all mingling in an unpleasant aroma cocktail. I saw people struggling to get though a tiny platform exit on Lewisham station.

London has been described as the heart of the country’s economy, pumping its fiscal blood around the nation. If that’s the case, then the country has heart disease. Its arteries are clogged, unable to cope with the demands placed on them.

No care is being taken of the heart’s health, and that lack of care is reflected in simple cleanliness. We Londoners are well known for our stiff upper lips, for putting up with things. But I do feel that that tolerant nature is being abused, and will continue to be abused unless we stand up and demand the sort of transport system we deserve.

  • You’re right.

    As a former Londoner now living in Brighton & Hove, leaving behind London’s transport system was one of the greatest plus points of leaving town. I dread coming back in for business and cope by: a. avoiding rush hours at all costs, b. walking whenever and wherever I can.

  • Jamie

    Couldn’t disagree more. The London transport system carries millions of people around the city every day – I truly think it’s a marvel. Yes, one we all have our complaints about, but first and foremost it is wonderful beast.

    In 5 years of commuting I struggle to recall one time that I’ve not been able to get from A to B on public transport. It might have involved some hassle, some delay, some crowding – but London transport has ultimately got me there.

    Nothing can illustrate how robust the system is more than the London tube and bus bombings. I spent almost two hours stuck on a Piccadilly Line tube, and emerged to absolute chaos in North London. And yet London transport got me home to Hertfordshire before lunchtime. All of my colleagues in central London similarly were able to get home that evening. It has its faults but my god it works.

    Sounds to me that both you and Anthony have lost sight of that. Fair enough, some people do tire of London – enjoy your suburban or rural idyll, shut up, move over and let those of us that still love the pulse of the city get on with enjoying it.