One night last week I was delayed getting home from work by a series of problems on the Central Line. It was frustrating.
It was too frustrating for one passenger in the carriage, who responded with a speech of passionate, wholehearted wrongness, directed at no one in particular but gaining I’m sure the silent approval of many.
His gist was that the tube is, and always has been, rubbish, that in this regard it is at one with the society in which it functions, and we should be ashamed of ourselves and each other for putting up with such a shambolic service.
This reaction is understandable. But it should be countered, because it’s bollocks.
Look at this graph from the London datastore, which shows the number of hours of customer’s lives which have been wasted by delays on the Underground. In other words, it’s a graph of frustration and despair against time. And it’s going in the right direction.
Each reporting period is 28 days long. The latest point covers 9th Dec 2012 – 5th Jan. The lowest point on the graph is for the period 19th Aug – 15th Sept 2012. That’s the period immediately after the Olympics finished, and includes the Paralympics. So there’s reason to suspect that the investment in those events might be at least partly responsible for the improvement.
Whatever the reasons, the trend is good.
Moaning may still be an appropriate response to a hideous and life-ruining delay, but surely we can take some comfort from the fact that hideous and life-ruining delays are rarer than they used to be.
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Mike Pollitt is the editor of The Metropolis.