Robert Hampton

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11th February 2014

Office Space
Posted by at 10.59pm | Uncategorised | No responses

Train in Euston Square Underground stationThe good news for Londoners is that the Tube strike, planned to start tonight, has been called off. The RMT and TSSA unions have got their wish for further consultation over London Underground’s plan to close London Underground ticket offices. A shame that London had to endure 48 hours of disruptive strike action, but when you elect someone like Boris Johnson, you can’t expect good results.

It’s true that technology is changing the way people pay for public transport. The Oyster card is almost magic compared to the scratch-off Saveaway tickets which Merseytravel are still using. We’re promised contactless credit card technology in the very near future as well. However, I don’t think that technology has reached the point where the humble ticket office can be done away with.

There’s a lot to be said for the human touch. BBC Two’s 2012 documentary series The Tube showed a dedicated workforce working hard to keep the often-creaking network running, in the face of often abusive passengers. I worry that, for all TfL’s protestations that all stations will retain a visible staff presence, somewhere down the line it will be decided that the network can do without them at all, and numbers will be cut to the absolute minimum required to comply with safety regulations.

My opinion on this is influenced by my experience of Berlin’s transport system when I visited in 2012. Very efficient and reliable, but run with minimal staffing. At Schönefeld Airport station, there were no staff visible at all to help visitors find their train or to help buy a ticket. Not a good first impression. I would hate for that to happen in London.

Hopefully, with the strikes called off for now, the process of ticket office closures can be managed with the co-operation of the unions, to achieve the best result for staff and passengers alike. If TfL want to save money, how about getting rid of expensive custom buses and the glorified funfair ride that almost nobody uses?

18th May 2010

The man on the Clapham (and Balham, Streatham, etc) Omnibus
Posted by at 1.18pm | In the News | 1 response

We finally have the answer to a question which has puzzled scientists for decades: what would happen if Boris Johnson invented a bus?

It’s only at the design stage, so it’s quite hard to judge, but I can’t see it achieving the same iconic status as the Routemaster. I’m also yet to be convinced that it is needed, other than to satisfy Boris’s anti-bendybus dogma.

In fact, watching the video I can’t help but think of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer is invited to design a car because he is allegedly in tune with what the average person wants… the resulting vehicle ends up being a hugely expensive flop.

Seriously, with three doors, two staircases and a wheelchair space, the lower deck is going to have room for approximately two passengers.

One postscript to the story is that about 20 ex-London bendybuses are heading to Liverpool to run services for Arriva, which caused the Echo to do a wonderful story about the DEATHTRAP BUS HORROR ON CITY STREETS (or words to that effect).

31st December 2009

2009? More like Woo! Thousand and Nine!

Was this year an exciting way to say goodbye to the decade? Here’s a reminder of what happened on planet Hampo this year (part 2, hopefully, follows tomorrow):-

January started out with one of my favourite shows being revived. Despite being up against EastEnders and being hosted by Ben Shepherd, the Krypton Factor did well enough to be recommissioned for a second series. We found out Who would replace David Tennant, and a year later we still haven’t actually seen him in the role. ITV’s latest attempt to ape the success of Doctor Who was Demons which failed spectacularly; the only creative thing about it being the number of different excuses the writers found for Christian Cooke to remove clothing.

In the wider world, various eras were drawing to a close, as Woolworths closed its doors, Tony Hart kicked the bucket and Dubya left office. Meanwhile, yours truly had an enjoyable night in London Theatreland.

Read the rest of this post »

17th September 2009

New Tube
Posted by at 8.06pm | Trains | 4 responses

Londoners are up in arms about the new Tube map which has been redrawn to make it “less cluttered”. On that count it succeeds completely, largely thanks to tidying up the East London Line and getting rid of the little red dagger symbols that were sprinkled everywhere. Here’s a sample of before and after for you:-

Old Tube map

New Tube Map

The big change that has upset everyone is that the River Thames has disappeared. If it were a geographically accurate map this would be important, but it isn’t. As BBC blogger Mark Easton points out, the Tube map is designed for people who already know which station they’re going to and just need a simple diagram to know which lines to use. You don’t need to know where the river is for that.

So I think the new map is a huge improvement. It’s certainly better than the now permanently broken Merseyrail map, which after recent revisions has achieved the near impossible and made a simple network appear complicated.

Enjoy the new Tube map while you can, because Boris, with his keen eye for a bandwagon, has ordered the changes reversed.

4th June 2009

Oh, Boris
Posted by at 11.42pm | In the News | No responses

The comedy mayor of London delivers again:-

3rd May 2008

Read it out, Boris
Posted by at 10.40am | In the News, Politics | No responses

I live 2½ hours away from London (4½ hours at weekends – thanks Network Rail!) but have taken a keen interest in the mayoral election.

It’s clearly a good time to be a removal firm in London, judging by all the comments on the Guardian blogs saying that they’d leave the city for ever if Johnson got elected.

Lots of Boris-haters are whinging about the result, but really, it’s a decisive victory: he was clear of Ken Livingstone by over 100,000 votes. So I suggest you either live with it, or move to Liverpool where we don’t bother with elections and such.

2nd May 2008

I’d think of a clever title relating to apathy, but I can’t be bothered

Amidst the news that Labour were pushed into 3rd place in yesterday’s elections, another depressing statistic emerged: that Liverpool Central ward had the lowest turnout in the country, with less than 12% of people voting.

This is a city whose local paper’s letters page is routinely filled with people whinging about roadworks, litter collection, derelict buildings, regeneration, crime, public transport — all of which are the responsibility of the city council to a greater or lesser extent. So when they have an opportunity to do anything about it, do they take advantage? No.

Anyway, in honour of the man who could be the next Mayor of London, here’s some classic Boris.

9th November 2007

Spoiler Alert
Posted by at 7.37pm | Books | No responses

In the Guardian, Stuart Jeffries has a hilarious review of Boris Johnson’s new poetry book. Extract follows:-

Behold them, reader, and despair:
their lolling eyes, their glassy stare,
this formerly dynamic pair
In a double-seat wheelchair.

27th September 2007

Inverted pyramid of de Pfeffel
Posted by at 10.50pm | In the News, Politics | No responses

Boris Johnson is the Conservative candidate for Mayor of London. The BBC have helpfully itemised his previous form on what even Boris himself describes as a “global itinerary of apology” — with stops in Liverpool, Portsmouth and Papua New Guinea.

Meanwhile the Guardian, citing a report from a left-wing group, point out some of his less entertaining indiscretions, such as supporting the Iraq war, section 28 and fox-hunting. Then they go on to describe him as “Norman Tebbit in clown’s uniform” — surely that position is already occupied by Norman Tebbit?

Did anyone ever see The Simple Life? It was a TV show where blonde people are put into jobs they are incapable of doing, with disastrous results. If Boris becomes the Mayor of London, it will be exactly like that. But hey… I don’t live there, so bring it on! 🙂