As I am sure you have heard this week there was a tube strike in London for 48 hours, personally I have been able to avoid the strike and stay indoors. However this is the first tube strike that I have been in London for, although I have seen them on the news back when I lived in the South West (SW). I could not believe the massive impact it had on London, everyone here seems to be so used to the tube being excellent and when it was taken away people struggled trying to find any way into work.
Having been on the outside looking in previously tube strikes that were plastered over the news invoked very little sympathy from me, London is the rare example of excellence in the UK for public transport. Back in the SW buses don’t always show up and you usually have at least 10 – 15 mins if not much longer to wait between them, many of the buses only come every 30 mins or each hour. The trains were always cancelled and late, my husband used them for about five years and they were more often late or cancelled then on time!
People generally drove to work, I certainly did! Some of my best memories are sat in the car waiting, did you know that Bristol is the most congested city in Britain? Traffic would be pretty terrible if there were any accidents on main roads but you just a few routes in your head which you could take. Oh route A is blocked? I’ll take route B, or C, or D .. you get my drift, of course everyone else would try and take those routes too. So when we would see that the poor Londoners had to wait longer than 1 – 5 mins to get a tube which would get them to work in record time, forgive us but we did not have much sympathy.
Now living in London I can see how much London just caves when the tube is not working, I can’t believe that the tube employees can even go on strike. Everyone panics because they are so used to good public transport via the tube that they just don’t know the bus routes, they don’t drive very often so they don’t know the roads. They don’t have a route B, C or D to rely on and suddenly everyone starts trying to get any bus they can.
On Wednesday morning tube stations which should have been open were shut, people were queueing to take a boat, queueing to take a bus, all the bikes were gone and people were actually dusting off their cars to try and drive. Of course though London is set up to give right of way to public transport over cars, so the traffic by car just added to the mess.
I’ve never seen all the offices over the road totally empty on a morning, I would put the level of frustration on par with snow days in the SW. People just could not get to their destination, they would have to take a boat then a bus, then another bus. The other transport methods just were not able to cope with the amount of people trying to use their services.
They think that it has costed London 50 million pounds each day of the strike and who knows how many people had their plans totally ruined. Sadly we have it all to look forward to next week again! Crossing my fingers that the strike doesn’t happen. Hopefully David Cameron will get his way and make the Tube a essential service!