February 08, 2003
London Transport Hell

I am livid. Absolutely livid. I’ve been diverting my recent online energies to trying to get to the bottom of the NIGHTMARE that was my journey home a week last Thursday (30th January 2003).



Think about that for just one minute.


I have emailed just about everybody who I think are representative of the collective responsibility of transport systems of London. I even emailed Annie Mole - the spiritual thought leader of the London Underground system - but apart from a couple of politically spun responses from Mayor Ken’s office - I have had little back from anybody. Alas - it seems nobody is interested.

Hey ho - perhaps most people in this country really are like British Airways cabin crew attendants: who don’t mollycoddle you - but, instead, speak down to you like a headteacher the moment you care to complain - or worse still - just simply ignore you when you’re in need. I can just picture the thought in their eyes: “well - the exercise probably did you a lot of good sir.”

A delightfully helpful British Airways Cabin Crew Attendant

A dee-lightfully helpful British Airways Cabin Crew Attendant

Anyway - there were many things about my ordeal that night that I will never forget - but there is not enough space in this margin to write about it - but if there was one thing that kept me going on my 3 mile melee with a fierce killer blizzard - it was music that I had on my brain that night - it had to be the one that got me home with absolute gritless determination all mixed up with the feeling of rage. A heavy rock number with raw guitar, violent drum and climatic lyrical crescendo …

I’m on the nightrain
Ready to crash and burn
I never learn
I’m on the nightrain

from a really motivational heavy-rock song by a visually unappealing eighties band called Gun N’ Roses.

Posted by jag at February 08, 2003 01:14 PM

Hi Jag,

I have bee following your story very closely and I must say that I really do sympathise with you.

When I take over the tube soon - I’ll make you an honorary London London Transport citizen - and you will have free access to the city’s transport system for the rest of your life!

By the way - could I ask you to host my blog for me? The people who run my office IT systems tell me that “the Internet is a jungle” and claim for security reasons that it is not a good idea to share my thoughts with the world.

LOL - Ken

ps - my preferred blog colour scheme is “Red”

Posted by: Ken Livingston on May 13, 2003 09:01 AM

Thanks Ken!

But I’m not sure that you’re the real Ken Livingston! I have asked the Mayor of London’s office to ask the “real” Ken to have a look at my “Transport Hell” webpage at http://www.jag.me.uk/transporthell so that he could learn first-hand about the debacle that was our transport system on the the night of 30th January 2003! I’m hoping he will be both entertained as well as annoyed! Hey - perhaps he will give me a free travelcard for life as you suggest! That would be great! If not, perhaps, wishful thinking!

Hey ho …

Best regards - Jag

Posted by: Jag on May 13, 2003 09:14 PM


why do you hate Netscape so much? There’s more than one OS in the world, by the way, and IE isn’t available on most of them ;)

Posted by: Tim on June 16, 2003 01:56 PM

My journey home takes about 2hours by public transport and 30mins by car.

From Edgware/Queensbury to Heathrow Airport.
The buses are always late the tube late and way overcrowded.

And the government wants to encourage us to use public transport!!!

And they want the olympics here!!!!hahahahahahahahahahah

The countries public transport is a joke, the europeans are laughing at us

Posted by: Desmond on July 2, 2003 04:00 PM

OK - two comments to respond to here:

Hello Tim:
If you’re referring to the comments I make on my “Views from Broadway” homepage - well - I don’t really hate Netscape - it’s just that I’ve grown sick and tired over the years hearing people slag off Bill Gates/Microsoft etc. that I decided to express an anti-anti-Microsoft stance at the time I put that page together. Sort of satire. Yes - I agree that there is more than one OS - and IE isn’t available on most of them - but given that over 95% of browser deployments are IE - then I don’t mind so much if the unconventional 5% can’t see my pages. I could say that my pages are targeted at the conventional types .… ;-) Thx for stopping by Tim!

Desmond: Couldn’t agree more! (Where do you work by the way? Queensbury?)

Posted by: Jag on July 3, 2003 06:03 PM

sorry to hear things were so crap.However i have my doubts about your grievence with hammersmith (h&c). This is one of the stations in my station group, i know the staff well and am 100% sure they would’ve informed you of the baker street closure. No offence but perhaps you didn’t see the whiteboard or the closure happened whilst en route. In addition the track north of queens park is owned by network rail (and therefore their responsibilty to maintain) so perhaps that’s reason for another e-mail/letter?:-)

Posted by: underground guy on July 8, 2003 08:11 PM

Hi there tubeguy - you’re probably right about the Hammersmith staff - I have to admit that they are normally very friendly and helpful - although I don’t use the H&C side as often as I do the Picc. Yes - the closure of Baker Street probably happened whilst en-route between Ham and Edgware Road. Hey ho …

Thanks for the pointer re track north of Queens Park - I didn’t realise that this was owned by Network Rail - I probably would have emailed them at the time - but to be honest with you - I’ve put all the grievances re that night to bed now. Just hoping it doesn’t happen again!

I take it you’re a tube supervisor/manager? You could pass on my regards to the Hammersmith staff - despite all the grievances I have about the tube from time to time - I have to say that it eventually does get me home - and at least I get some time to think about things along the way! :-)

ps - I will probably do a “tribute” entry on Ham station at some point in the near future - so please stop by and tell all the folks at the station to come visit if they have Internet access from the station or platform.

Posted by: Jag on July 9, 2003 12:15 PM

glad to know were off the hook! i’m not anyone senior (in fact i’m just a station assistant) but i frequently stop by on my way home to jolly old southall and i’ll let my mates know that we are a least approved of by one person! as for yr feature on hammy i could provide a wealth of information and contacts to help you with the station research which includes myself.

Posted by: underground guy on August 5, 2003 01:03 PM


Today I went travel on the new oyster card, I had been on the bus for a short while and my oyster card was taken away from me. WHY you may ask because I was not informed that I had to carry my photo card with me at all times.

Now, when I purchased my card and saw all the advertisements I thought that this was the fast way to get round London, well let me tell you it is not. I was told that I had to keep the record card with me at all times, so imagine my surprise when it was confiscated like I was some kind a criminal.

I was then told by a upstart inspector that I had to send a copy of my photo card and I will get back my card. i then asked when was that he said I DON‘T KNOW, know i ask you tube traveller if you worked for a job where you are confiscating people only means of travel wouldn’t you tell them all the information as possible. well I wasn’t that luck!

So my advise to you is demand the paper travel cards back!

Posted by: Pamela on October 7, 2003 11:33 AM

Hi Pamela, I’m so sorry to hear about your nightmare story - that would really piss me off too. I think that LU have been caught out by the Oystercard thing - because I’ve noticed that I have been asked to present my card and my Record Card with it - even though I once insisted to a member of LU staff that according to the blurb that came with the card - it explicitly stated that you didn;t need to carry the Record Card with it! I think the reason why the expect you to carry a phot card with it is because it could be stolen - but I don’t understand that because one of the main benefits of Oystercard is that it can’t be used if its stolen and you report it as such - i.e. a stolen card quickly becomes useless. Anyway - I strongly recommend that you “cust and paste” your story in the “oystercard” article on Annie Mole’s Going Underground weblog at:


Thanks for sharing your frustrations here though!

Posted by: Jag on October 7, 2003 07:01 PM

Don’t you ever just decide the transport’s probably not worth the bother and simply walk it? Even a gentle, endlessly sustainable pace often outspeeds the traffic, it’s free (if you already own good boots - if not, why not?), and you get to be alone in your own head (except perhaps when crossing the road) and get some serious contemplation in. Really, there’s no excuse not to.

When things are going wrong you could wait and whinge - or just get moving. I don’t reckon there’s anything wrong with London’s public transport - it just suffers from people’s unwillingness to move their lazy asses by themselves, which causes a snowball effect on any problem.

Posted by: Lester on November 4, 2003 01:51 AM

Worst transport system in the world..?! Even India has better train frequency than UK. Whats up? Is anyone still paying for transport in this country…!?

and to Lester: Did you ever try walking from Haringey to Harrow and back, 5 days a week?! Get real! If there was cycle paths I’d cycle it, not to get fit, but because it is actually quicker by cycle…

But sure, in good boots you probably make the distance in just under 25 min WALKING!?!

Posted by: O. on November 10, 2003 11:18 PM

Ah! A site which is like a brother to mine. I decided to go one week, and log my journey’s every day to see if I could have at least one good journey to work. Just the one. Well, read www.undergroundhell.co.uk and decide for yourself if I did. But I’ll tell you something. People won’t believe what they read. They’ll think I’m exaggerating. If you do, I invite you to take a train at 8am city bound from Putney Bridge. I’ll be there. So will most of South West London. And we’ll all be trying to get into your carriage.

But great site mate (though the colours hurt my eyes!) and I’ll stick a link on mine to it!

Posted by: Commuting Tom on December 10, 2003 08:08 PM

Hi there Tom, thanks for your comment. Your one-week story is great! I do believe you.

Posted by: Jag on January 4, 2004 04:29 PM

I’m absolutely amazed, but not astonished, by the LU’s treatment of you and the weather circumstances. Working in London this summer, I was rather bemused to learn that tardiness at work was not only acceptable if caused by transport issues, but also incredibly common. I’m from Chicago, the 3rd largest and one of the coldest and snowiest major cities in the US. I know for a fact I would’ve been sacked pronto here for the amount of times I was late in London. Oddly enough, we never seem to have problems with public transport (incl. buses, under and over-ground trains); as I write right now, the wind chill is about -24 degrees C! And here, 2-4 inches of snow are not “blizzard-like” conditions; try 7”+. Having said that, of course I still adore London, but the amount of bureaucratic B.S. must be frustrating. Best of luck in getting your story heard and rectified!

Posted by: sarah on January 30, 2004 09:19 PM

Hi Sarah: thanks for your comment - sadly, as you can probably see from the effects of the snowfalls this year - the story was pretty much exactly the same as last year. It seems that the whole of London came to a standstill again after it snowed a few cms. This time there was plenty of warning - and there appears to be no excuses other than absolute and utter management incompetence on the part of the transport companies and authorities.

I agree with your point about public transport being a common excuse for being late to work here in London. I’ve never known it to be any different - it’s just accepted a normal part of the way of life.

And yes - I am just puzzled as to why is it that we cannot cope as well as other places (like your own) - which experience conditions 10 times worse!

Posted by: Jag on January 31, 2004 11:45 AM

Hi Jag
I’ am living in London for 3 years, I think I have a good view of transport system.

As an Underground system is complictly unusable (heat or freez, humidity ) here in London I’am using Buses only (wich are actualy mad too)

I’am traveling from Hammersmith to Knightsbridge every day. I’ve been asking houndreds of questions to houndreds of persons, offices, etc. never get proper answer, worst never noticed anything changed.
Here are questions I asked and always get the same answer:

1. Why buses on the same line (or route) always seems to run in pairs, three’s ?
So we have like 15-20 min. to wait for a bus and then 2 or 3 comming and then again 15-20 min. waiting. Strange:-/ I understand that they passing ech other. Howe com then, that after introducing new sysytem, (some electronic gizmos fitted in the buses to let driver keep the gap)it happent to be even worst You get a bus and driver is just driving so slow that its imposible to manage to get enywhere ! OK but how should I knew rushing to this bus in the morning ? If I knew he is to early and will be doing 15 min. route in 25 min. I have taken other bus !
2. How long bus drivers will be passing bus stops, using other buses as a cover ?
I’ve been ignored so many times that I’am thinking of jumpimg on the street to stop the bus !
The worst is at night. Bus drivers going home , with mad speed, passing bus stops, ignoring road speed limits.
3. Do not get me wrong, I like when bus is going fast (resonably), but Hey, are we potatos !?
I do not want to be bus driver because I have no skills for that, patience mostly. Bus companies are so desperate for drivers probably, that they employ everyone who wants to drive big lory.
We in the bus are throwed back and forth , left and right every traffic lights and every bus stops. They seems to not know what braking is , they just hit the accelerator or brake pedal, and I mean HIT ! when I complain to the bus driver , he said that “… he must be on time ..”
I said “.. excuse me , but should You not carry people safe and comfortably in the first place ?..” He said “… I’am here to drive, not to take care of You..” !
No comments.
4. I’am a road user as well, so I know that bus drivers are MAD !! Yes they are.
I ride the motorbike, sometimes and belive me, You have no much more menace driving from anybody than bus drivers.
Complete lack of law obidience !
driving on two lines at one time, crossing the lines all the time, crossing Red Light on the regular basis, ignoring Bus stop bay (one driver said “he can not fit the bus there !” maybe he should drive mini then )
Is there any police service that can control Buses ? This is mad. Why car drivers are penelized for smallest mistakes, while bus drivers are getting away with major road crimes ?

There is loads more but I wrote so much recently that my fingers bleed and its does not work.
I understand what You went throu, ones I get home in 4 hours.My usual trip is 1 hour 15 min. and most of that (45 min is waiting on bus stops)
No one can explain how waiting 45 min on two routes is posible if You can see on every timetable that buses are mostly ( peak time) every 8-12 min. I change bus ones :-/ hmmm .. some Math must be .

Every time You try to complain its pointles.
As You see making it dificult its good way for them, after writing and calling everyone would quit.
Unforetunetly our society and govern bodies let it go like that, we can not complain to not to be called racist, troublemakers etc.
If more people will experience what You did, everyone will be shure, we can not do enything.

p.s. On every bus stop You can see big posters:
” More Buses “, ” Safer Trip ” , ” On Time ”
Is this campaign have anything to do with telling people that they do not know what they see.

Thats all Just shering my View.
Sorry for grammar, I’am still lerning English.

Posted by: Artur on March 3, 2004 04:44 PM


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With Best Regards

Daniel O Ansah
+233 24 737485
Kwabus Investment Ltd, Co

Posted by: Daniel O Ansah on March 6, 2004 11:48 AM

Hi Artur - many, many thanks for sharing your thoughts with us here. I can empathise 100% with many of your points!

I especially liked reading your comments about the bus drivers! :-)

Your English is great! Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Jag on March 7, 2004 06:14 PM

I am BA cabin crew and i am most certainly not as you described as above.I love helping people and will do anything to ensure that passengers are happy and comfortable.

Posted by: vickie on March 10, 2004 10:01 PM

Hi Jag

Sorry to hear about all your troubles with the transport system in london. I was wondering that since a lot of the problem seemed to be with communications and getting information to commuters if this isn’t finally the wap application to make us all rich ;-)


Posted by: Neil on March 12, 2004 09:26 AM

Hi Neil - great to hear from you! Hope you are well.

Make us rich? I wish! You’re absolutely right though - it’s all about communication. If everybody in the world got that right though - we’d be out of a job I suppose .… ;-)

Posted by: Jag on March 12, 2004 08:33 PM

Dear Jag,
I am a television producer developing a documentary for Channel 4 about 30th January 2003 and how the country came to a halt after a few centimeters of snow. Your website is brilliant - poor you! Please can you contact me so we can have a chat about your nightmare experience? My direct line is 020 7428 4708.

Sally B

Posted by: Sally B on March 24, 2004 11:26 AM

Hiya Sally - have sent you an email. Since C4 is my favourite channel - give me a call to discuss!

Posted by: Jag on March 24, 2004 09:55 PM

nice topic

Posted by: andy on May 10, 2004 03:42 PM

Hi there I have found an oyster card freedom pass - yes its my luck day free travel but am not sure what to do

the owner hasnt cancelled it so it is lucky but am i at risk of getting aught onn cctv using it

can anyone hlp,



Posted by: alindra on June 13, 2004 02:59 PM
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