please empty your brain below

Improvements? Pah!

So what do I do next year, when I want my Gold Card annual season ticket discount added to my PAYG Oyster card? This year, I just asked the helpful man behind the counter at Farringdon tube station, who seemed confident he would still be there next year.
Pedantically: Before Wood Lane.... I think I am right in saying that a substantial renovation of Regents Park station (which was closed for ages) made that the very first tube station without a ticket office...
i think this is the right decision and I'm quite impressed at TfL's strength of will here.

Presumably gold card discounts will finally be added automatically like they should have been in the first place. Won't they? Won't they?!

There are many fringe cases like this ("privilege" staff discount tickets being another). It would have been helpful if TFL had told us how they'll work come ticket-counter-doomsday. But all of these things should have been available online, or over the phone, or automatically via the back office, in the first place.

Let's see.
Remember all the fuss and predictions of doom when they removed guards?

If anything CCTV, mobile phones & YouTube have been more effective than someone bored out of their mind in a ticket office.
I was a bit riled until the last paragraph.

They have in fact closed quite a few more than have been highlighted and as far as I can tell no-one has noticed or cared. The "closure" list is for conversion of the ticket office so some stations that have not had an open ticket office for years still have a "closure" date in the future.

Embankment went with the escalator refurbishment and never reopened. Temple's ticket office has been closed for a while and is now blanked off. Vauxhall's one closed at the start of station refurbishment and clearly will never re-open.

You seem to have missed the most significant Visitor information Centre of all - Gatwick (North Terminal).
Never been near the enhanced ticket machines, so don't know their capabilities.

But back in the other universe, National Rail, there are all sorts of complicated tickets you can buy. Railrovers, savers to Thurso, plusbus. Not every National Rail station is staffed, and so if you can't get hold of the ticket you want, you get on the train until you get to somewhere you can, or the guard sells you the ticket.

So, out of interest, when TfL gobbles up a London commuter service, what happens to through ticketing?

I wonder of TfL is aware that the extermination of ticket halls is a good way of resisting pressure to get into the 21st century and offer a full range of through ticketing options on the Underground. Its ridiculous that when I visit my father in Amersham for a weekend, the best option for me from a ticket point of view is to go to Great Missenden.
Like other commentators, I was a bit peeved about the tone, 'till I got to the last paragraph. Let me draw a comparison which I thing is absolutely and directly equivalent to the tube. Once upon a time, if I wanted money, I went into a bank with a piece of paper which was exchanged for money. This, for me, stopped the best part of 40 years ago. For a long time I still had to go to people behind a glass screen to pay in cheques. Communication was hindered by the barrier, even though it was transparent. Then they got rid of the glass. But still, they introduced means to pay in cheques automatically. And they have helpful people with whom one can interact if one needs help. Some things can't be done automatically, and the "meeter/greeter" staff use technology to help customers (eg transfers of large sums of money where identification is required).

For the tube, provided staff have the means to deal with everything the customers need, the transaction doesn't have to take place though a tiny "hole in the wall".
I was going to say ... "Closeed Stealthily", but you already mentioned Covent Garden. That has only gone early because if the lift maintenance.

I can understand it happening at quiet/quieter stations. But not at tourist-heavy Zone 1 stations (such as Covent Garden). And Oxford Circus isn't getting a Visitor Information Centre? That's... going to be a mess, isn't it?

With a ticket office, an orderly queue forms. With a member of visible staff with an iPad out in the ticketing area, sounds like a bit of a free-for-all, to me.

What someone should actually do is to survey a busy station now, and work out the average time that someone spends queueing up at a ticket office to make their purchase. Then go back to that same station and work out again how long a confused tourist spends waiting to get to talk to the member of staff battling with a crowd of people all wishing to talk to them.
Brixton and Seven Sisters close on 9 March 2015.

dg writes: Thanks.
What happens when paper travelcards get wiped? I'm pretty sure staff with a handheld machine aren't able to issue you a new one free of charge...
London seems to be one of the few places still producing a decent Bus Map - ideal for planning journeys over unfamiliar territory. Try doing that over the web and you'll soon give up!

The Underground ticket clerk could always be relied upon to reach down into his drawer and supply a copy. Now presumably, we will have to join the long queues at the VICs, as the roving Tablet-bearing staff won't be carrying bus maps around.

With the mention of new VICs at Liverpool Street and Victoria, I wonder what this means for the future of the similar facilities at these stations 'upstairs'. There surely won't be two such outlets at these places. So more redundancy/consolidation dressed up as 'Improvements'
This is overdue. Speaking to Underground staff behind the glass has always been a trial, they seem to think the glass means they can be as rude as possible.

Well done TfL.

PS dg, you missed Shepherd's Bush which also closed earlier this month.
I doubt anyone is missing South Wimbledon's ticket office. It was barely open as it was, and from what I saw, barely ever was open when it was actually supposed to. It was supposed to be open for an hour in the evening but I never saw the window open once.

Last time I went through it, I saw two members of staff looking very bored in the ticket hall. Suspect that will be knocked down to one before long.
I'm not "peeved" whatsoever about the tone of this article. TFL is just one pawn in the game of introducing a cashless society. And at first you may think so what. But if you go in to a shop and your credit card gets rejected, you just frown and dig out some cash. What if that option wasn't there. What if in the future, you're unemployed for example and your only form of payment is a card from the government, and if the government don't like you because your views are leftfield someone taps in reject on your card. I think people need to wake up, we are being shafted left right and centre, but its the drip drip effect that you brilliantly highlighted in each and every point that makes this article stand out
What you haven't picked up on is that one of the goals of the new visitor information centres is to (up)sell tickets to London attractions. "Would you like a Tussauds ticket with your travelcard? A ticket to see Wicked, perhaps?"

These all pay good commission - and I suspect the only real reason why TfL is even implementing the VICs in the first place.
@ Petras409 - nothing to stop the staff putting bus maps on the leaflet racks but I suspect all that will happen is that deliveries to stations will stop thus reducing the overall print run for bus maps. We then get to the inevitable point of TfL saying "no one uses paper bus maps any more so we'll stop producing them". That will be another mistake but I can see it coming.

@ Dan - TfL summarily killed off privilege ticket sales from ticket offices at the last fares revision. You must either buy a ticket at a NR office or else get an Oyster Card with the priv discount set on it. Goodness knows where you take your form that sets out your privilege entitlement to get the priv discount set on an Oyster Card. Will the "floating" staff member be able to sort this out for you?

@ Andrew - all annual tickets are moving to web sales only. It is unclear how Gold Record Cards and Gold Card discounts will be handled in future. TfL have not answered questions on this point via recent Twitter sessions despite promising (yet again!) that all questions would be answered.

There have been a fair number of questions recently about how people buy Bus and Tram Passes once ticket offices are shut because the passenger machines do not sell them. These sorts of gaps are pretty hopeless and need sorting out.

While I understand your final point about people "coping" I remain of the view that TfL have got this wrong and they are going to find they have a mess on their hands at the end of the scheme. I also expect a fair slice of their revenue will move to TOC ticket offices which have Oyster retailing capability.
Not everyone with a Gold Card has an Oyster card. I don't, and nor do the hundreds of thousands of other commuters from outside the boundary. I'd imagine that this can be done at the ticket machine, though.

Sadly getting rid of people and sticking in machines is "progress"; the TOC for my journey, London Midland, have been doing it for years without any protest at all. I'm just not sure who it is progress for. Certainly not all those tourists queuing up at Euston to speak to a person because they don't understand the machines.
@PC: The problem is that very few TOC ticket offices do have Oyster retailing. The only ones I can think of off the top of my head are Euston- but only the small London Midland office, not the big Virgin one- and Marylebone. South West Trains took out Oyster capability from their office at Wimbledon some time ago.

Interesting that Farringdon lists the Crossrail ticket office as needing "improvement works"...
I expect in 5 years time there will be a ranting article in the Guardian (c.f. this week's rant about doing everyone else's work for free in the supermarket (i.e. self service).
Embankment closed long before the scheduled date. A locally produced notice directs passengers to "Waterloo, Charing Cross, Westminster, Temple". They will have to keep amending that sign.
Bring it on, I say. My local ticket office has 2 windows, one usually open with a bored looking staff member, 2 others standing in the back yacking to each other. The staff on the platform are much friendlier. Maybe they stick the surly ones in the office where they can't upset too many people.

You're welcome, B.

Oxford Circus isn't going to get a Visitor Information Centre because the idea is that tourists visit it once on arrival in London or even prior to that. Hence they are at Heathrow, Gatwick, St Pancras and some of the principal London termini.

You are more likely to see at future Visitor Information Centre at Gare du Nord than at Oxford Circus.
I was about to make the same point to Geofftech as Pedantic of Purley has made.

You don't need to sell tickets to tourists at Oxford Circus as they should buy an Oyster when they first arrive at the airport (how else do you get into central London). In theory it should be easier for tourists to top up at a machine too as they can change the language of the machine.
And if those passengers (NOT customers) from abroad use their 'local' contactless card to pay, that's also a cash transaction charge for each journey. Given their rate of travel, many may not reach any fare-capping level. That's great - come to London and we'll rob you legally.
As others have mentioned, Shepherd's Bush was closed a few weeks back. So far all they've done is removed the queue barriers from outside the windows (for all the "nobody uses it" comments, it always seemed to have a long queue!) and put some blue TfL vinyls over the windows.

The ticket machines may have had their software upgraded but at any time of the day I've been past most are happily flashing the message that they're out of change, which I've never had from a ticket office!

I'm not sure what the plans are to reorganise the actual ticket office area. A big design problem with the current layout is that on entry the entry barriers and escalators are on the left, whereas the ticket machines are on the right, so people buying tickets have to cross the flow of people exiting the station twice to make a purchase! Somehow I can't see this changing without some major design changes!

In terms of more staff on the floor, I haven't seen much of this in evidence yet. Maybe there's the one person who would have been in the ticket office joining the existing person at the gateline, but that's it. No sign of anyone down on the platforms (sorely needed at busy times).
Anon @1:34

Have you ever used contactless payment on TfL? You get a single daily charge on your account, regardless of how many journeys you make.

As for foreign transaction fees - these are the responsibility of the bank, not TfL, and are something that visitors to the city would face every time they are using their card (including at TVMs or ticket offices!). TfL are minimising the impact by consolidating charges on a daily basis.

Fee-free products exist (e.g. in the UK Halifax Clarity, Nationwide Select, in the US BofA Travel Rewards, Amex Platinum...) - and I would wholeheartedly encourage frequent travelers to take out a fee-free product for travel.
The large Ticket Office at the Westfield entrance to Stratford is particularly baffling. Built well after ticket office closures had been planned and completely unnecessary for the Olympics (except in the same "just-in-case" way that TfL Travel Ambassadors were sent to Uxbridge Bus Station), as all ticket-holders were given good old-fashioned paper Travelcards. It even has a couple of National Rail windows - identical to the untrained eye - which Greater Anglia seem particularly reluctant to staff.
Flip the argument and it's even more ridiculous:

We're going to take people away from the station concourse where you can have a simple conversation and get the help you need and improve it by putting them behind a glass screen in a different part of the station from where you want to be. And this will cost more, because we require more people to work a station this way.

Not very convincing is it?
One Day Bus and Tram Passes are available on conventional magnetic stock from ANY National Rail Ticket Office (which, for the avoidance of doubt, includes London Overground, despite what some of their staff think).

The clerk needs to set the origin to a station inside the Travelcard area (London Terminals is fine), the destination to "London Bus&Tram" (NLC: H811) and the type of ticket as a return.

It remains to be seen whether those NR stations retailing Oyster through ticket offices will be allowed to refund PAYG credit and deposits as part of the changes, but I suspect not.
Ealing Broadway has Oyster capabilities too - I have exchanged National Rail Vouchers for Oyster credit there.

I have to say, I don't think this is a bad idea. I've never needed to use a ticket office when travelling in another city, and if you're concerned with the language barrier - well a machine that does 10 languages is better than a grumpy staff member that knows one.

Regardless of whether there are more or less staff overall on the network, I can only see that having staff out in the open rather than stuck behind a glass wall doing nothing for 7 of the 8 hours of their shift sounds good to me.
It's never been the staff that were the important features of the ticket office. It was the hardware and creativity combination the staff had available to them (as opposed to the limited capabilities of a ticket machine).
North Greenwich's ticket office shuts on 22 March.

dg writes: Thanks.
Highbury & Islington ticket office closes on March 12.

dg writes: Thanks.
For the record, Ealing Broadway only offers a limited range of Oyster services - they will sell you an Oyster card and top it up for you but because they are not a TFL ticket office you can't return your card there and re-claim your deposit.
Wells terrace ticket office at Finsbury Park is closing 18th April under guise of closing and redoing whole entrance. Very annoying for those who use w7/w3 buses as will have to walk all the way round to the other entrance and surely will cause even more congestion than usual (station regularly closes in the morning due to overcrowding).

TridentScan | Privacy Policy