CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury - Mixed messages undermine the achievements of the Underground - London Underground has lost public confidence, but there must be a more positive story behind the headlines, says Ron Dyson, group managing director of McCann-Weber

Once again the frothy cocktail of record profits coinciding with lousy service brings editorial misery to a major public service organisation.

Once again the frothy cocktail of record profits coinciding with

lousy service brings editorial misery to a major public service

organisation.



The timing hasn’t helped London Transport (LT). With the Circle Line

down and profits up, London’s mayoral candidates are jostling to debate

the issue of public transport in the capital.



LT is clearly an organisation in transition. At last, overdue

investments are being made and improvements are on the horizon, but too

many hollow promises over the years have rather soured the pitch.

Profitability is hardly a quality to stem the tide of contempt, and an

admission of failure in meeting service standards does nothing to instil

public confidence.



Ironically, according to recent press coverage, only in the area of

information did the Tube meet the standards set by the Government. Even

here, however, there seems to be a woeful lack of consistency - and the

fanfare given to LT’s customer service charter now seems to have little

substance or relevance: it’s just another hollow promise.



All in all, it’s great fodder for the media, and it’s a story that will

run for many weeks to come, particularly with there being so much

political uncertainty about London’s public transport strategy.



Surely, though, it’s not all bad news for the public. There has been

some progress in customer service training, station cleanliness,

ticketing procedures and public safety - even if the Government’s

standards haven’t been met. And LT may even be able to salvage respect

for achievements on the Jubilee line, despite its budgeting nightmare.

But what about some evidence of public consultation and involvement, as

well as a demonstration that the company is listening to the paying

passenger?



And where is the tangible evidence of improvements that have been made,

not to mention an ongoing demonstration of the benefits that will come

from current investment? Where is transparency, and the reference to

realistic benchmarks that are easily understood by all concerned?



If we knew what to expect, and progress was seen to be made day to day,

there would be much more tolerance and understanding when less palatable

news breaks. There appears to be little evidence of a focus on such

progress.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in