Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Image management, by TfL

Good morning.

Yesterday's journey home featured an on time tube, but a connecting train to Hersham delayed by five minutes owing to overcrowding.  But overcrowding caused by a very special piece of incompetence.  You see, the train from Waterloo to Woking (Hersham is a stop on that line) is normally eight carriages long.  Last night, however, the decision was taken to disconnect half the carriages from the train while stationed at Waterloo, and send only four coaches forth on their usual journey.  Apparently, this is because the carriages were needed by another service.  And let's remember that the line I travel was recently shown to be the second busiest in the country.  Yeah, the carriages were needed elsewhere.  That makes sense. 

I was going to get me revenge by travelling first class this morning on a standard ticket, but the train was too full to make my way to the first class carriages.

Instead, this morning's standing-room-only journey into Waterloo was delayed by a minute, causing me to take a later connecting tube than planned, making me three minutes late overall.

That's eight minutes in total since yesterday morning, or £20.

And finally, TfL gives another good example of How Not To Do PR: embarrassingly, I missed the Cable Car satisfaction survey results announced earlier this week, but the summary is that a few cherry-picked results showed satisfaction scores of 93 out of 100.  Why do we think these results are cherry picked?  Because TfL is refusing to provide anyone with copies of the original report to check it out for themselves.

Now, releasing news from a research report or survey a bit at a time is hardly uncommon practice in PR - after all, you've paid good money to create some news hooks and you want to eke them out over time to maintain positive momentum.  But the thing is, that's something private companies can do with private funding.  This survey was paid for with public money and is being promoted with public money.  Forcing people to fill out Freedom of Information requests to get hold of it has got to call your motives into question.  And let's not forget TfL has a history of unreasonably withholding the most basic information about itself as long as it possibly can for no good discernible reason.  What is this organisation trying to hide?

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