London’s Tube Needs To Get Connected… To The 21st Century

Open letter from Richard Tracey AM for Wandsworth and Merton

Commuting on the tube means being out of contact, and when you are delayed underground you can’t tell anybody… well unless they’re sitting in the same carriage as you. If you work in Wandsworth and are waiting on an important call, don’t get on the Northern Line or District Line, you’ll miss that call. But if you were in Berlin, Paris, or Seoul this would not be a problem, because for the past decade you have been able to call and text, and more recently tweet underground.

TfL can say it’s too expensive or complex, but why then has every other major city been connected and we can’t figure it out. Recently transport bosses said they are going to wait until after Crossrail is completed to even consider adding this technology to the tube, which means waiting well into the next decade. Being connected underground means commuters can make smarter decisions about avoiding delays, report crime or suspicious activity in seconds, catch up on the latest news, order the weekly groceries, and even top up their Oyster mid journey.

New York was like us a couple years ago with its Subway being a communications black hole, but it has recently found a way to connect its commuters without any cost to the taxpayer, and they are now well underway. Their simple solution was to have the mobile operators pay the bill, not commuters or taxpayers. TfL and the Mayor need to show they are open for this kind of agreement to take the tube into the 21st century.

Richard Tracey AM
London Assembly Member for Wandsworth and Merton


September 19, 2014