Friday, 8 February 2013

If your house is on fire, don't panic...

...because at least you know that TfL employees can still give free travel passes to a member of their families.

London Mayor Boris Johnson's new budget shows he feels the £35.8m perk for TfL employees is worth keeping - at the cost of 12 fire stations, 18 fire engines and 520 firefighter jobs.  It's a simple choice really: greater saftey for all, jobs for hard-working men and women who risk their lives to keep the general populous - including TfL employees - safe, or a ridiculous benefit for a surly, constantly-striking, shoddy service-providing few?

(NB: if you are a courteous, hard-working, dedicated-to-the-customer TfL employee, you have my word I'm not talking about you!)

Now, I know that money doesn't grow on trees and something has to give way in a budget aimed at running one of the world's largest and busiest cities, but really?  That's the priority?  And just in case my friend Anonymous John comes knocking asking for my solution, I've got a couple prepared:
  1. I agree that all jobs come with perks, and there's no reason (bar those stated above and elsewhere in this blog) TfL employees shouldn't enjoy one too.  How about, instead of a completely free travel pass, they could get a 20% discount on one?  That's still much more than anyone else would get, worth having and sharing with your loved ones, and would save at least 80% of those far more important resources (the exact figure of the discount is free for you to quibble over, but the principle's sound; if you don't believe a fire service is more important than TfL employee perks, you can fuck off)
  2. Fire insurance plaques.  Image credit: Jane's London
  3. If that's unacceptable to TfL employees to the extreme nature that they'll get professional complainer Bob Crowe on board to organise strikes from now until the London Underground's bicentennial, here's an alternative: ever seen those fire insurance plaques above on some of London's older houses, perhaps while on a walking tour?  (When firefigthting was private, if you weren't insured with the right firefighting service, as evidenced by your plaque, the firefighting team would just watch your house burn.)  If Bob's cronies' perk is just part of the 'fair deal for a fair day's work, let's all get around a table' thing that Bob & co. won't budge on, you can keep it.  Instead, we'll put plaques on the buildings of TfL employees (and Boris' house[s]) so that the firefighters know not to bother helping out if they start to burn down.  That way, only those whose perks are causing the depletion of the firefighting service in London will be affected by it.
I know which option I'd choose if I were a TfL employee.  But, to be fair, to my knowledge they've not been given the choice yet of whether to decimate one of the emergency services for their own private benefit.  Call me cynical because of my prediction of their response if Boris decides to kill their perk.

Elsewhere, a Tory report slams TfL for not yet providing mobile phone coverage on the Underground.  Actually, I'm not sure I want this because pretending to go onto a Tube is one of my favourite ways to end phone conversations I'm bored with.  Nonetheless, given that everyone else has this facility, I'd prefer to see TfL being able to offer it, even if we, the public, then turn around and tell them not to bother providing it (prior to any money being spent, of course - it's just that Paris and Berlin have been able to do it for getting on for 15 years, so I want to know why we weren't offered the capability years ago).

Good news for the borough of Islington, however, TfL's excess heat will soon be powering your homes.  Expect blackouts.

And finally, here's a picture of David Milliband asleep on the tube with his flies ('zipper' for you Americans) down, courtesy of The Times (subscription required to read much more than this).

Fortunately, the train remained in its tunnel.
Image credit: The Times

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