My Big Mouth: People should stop complaining about London transport


One SWL reporter talks about his growing love affair with the tube


By Jacob Metcalf

Geri Halliwell braved the tube this week for the first time in 17 years, albeit only for a short time as she travelled one stop from Leicester Square to Piccadilly. The Spice Girl spent her time flicking through the Financial Times, and was suitably impressed with the journey, tweeting: “Loved it!! I’m a Londoner! I’m liberated!!”

Until fairly recently I lived on Merseyside, and I wouldn’t necessarily say that using the tube makes me feel like a Londoner, nor do I feel particularly liberated by it, but I I am very fond of the tube, if not on the verge of falling in love with it as I continue my courtship with the London transport service.

The most common complaint is overcrowding. If you consider that London has a population of just over eight million people, and there are over a billion journeys made on the tube each year, overcrowding should be expected. I find the free for all come peak times exhilarating, and the journey feels more satisfying when you find yourself in a seat or good standing position. Despite the congestion I still feel like I have my own personal space. Geri Halliwell said it right when she tweeted: “Rules of the tube, I notice no one smiles or looks at each other, like stay out of my zone.” 

The price is another bugbear that people love to moan about, and this I can empathise with. It is expensive but it’s expensive to travel anywhere in Britain these days. On Merseyside, a monthly train, bus and ferry ticket to travel from Wirral to Liverpool will cost £91.10. It is cheaper than the £136.80 I pay to travel through zones 1 and 3 but ultimately,  it’s about convenience.

Buses and trains on Merseyside come every 15 minutes during the day, which then extends to 30 minute intervals during the evening. It’s refreshing to stroll into a tube station with the knowledge that the longest wait I will have is two to three minutes. Yes you get delays, and the look of disdain on my London-born work colleagues faces as the driver announces that there will be a considerable delay is priceless.

The tube flies at a phenomenal speed compared to other transport in Britain, my commute from Tottenham Hale to South Wimbledon taking around 35 minutes, covering a distance of 15 miles, calling at 21 stations. In comparison the train from West Kirby on Wirral to Liverpool covers a distance of 11 miles, calling at 15 stations and takes the same amount of time. 

One person had the audacity to complain in a review that he was met with bad language when he tried to board the train before letting people off first. I struggle to come to terms with that particular gripe, what did he expect? 

The tube does have its flaws, and I can see how people can become frustrated by delays and overcrowding. Perhaps the prices are steep, but I find the service to be good value for money, quick, easy to navigate and readily available. Or maybe us Northerners are just easily pleased!

Photo courtesy of Oxfordian Kissuth, with thanks. 

Follow us @SW_Londoner

Related Articles