Wednesday, 5 February 2014

London Underground strike

In my book Managing Transport Operations I show that most passengers do not want to be using transport. The question usually asked by transport providers is what are we trying to sell. Obviously the answer is a cabin, a seat or some space for freight. The proper question to ask is what does the consumer wish to buy. What in reality is the consumer of transport wanting from transport? If the transport consumer could find some way to instantly transfer from one place to another  they would avail themselves of that opportunity. To cut a complex argument short, it is the arrival which the consumer is buying. They want to be at the destination so that they can carry out their wishes.
This argument puts the consumer at the centre of the transport process. The journey has to be accomplished safely so that the passenger or goods arrive undamaged. It has to be accomplished to the time advertised.
Back to Transport for London. Many passengers need reassurance to complete their journey. They do not want to be presented with an array of machines to buy a ticket. To help them negotiate the process, they need ticket office and helpful staff. It strikes me that in the present dispute, the needs of the consumer have been lost in the shouting by both side. One problem is that the great majority of passengers using the underground are daily travellers. Not all. I can think of numerous times when I have stood in the station in another large city in some other country than the UK and found it almost impossible to purchase a ticket. Transport for London should think deeply about their attitude to passengers. It looks on the surface as though they are slipping back into the production idea of transport provision where the needs of the operator are placed before the needs of the consumer.

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