By Claire West
The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) have unveiled details of a major effort to help people get to work, and get around the capital if a Tube strike threatened by the leadership of the RMT and TSSA unions goes ahead.
Peter Hendy Transport Commissioner has said:
"We urge everyone travelling in and around London during the strike to check before you travel and to consider the wide range of alternative travel options by going to www.tfl.gov.uk as well as staggering your normal journeys where possible."
Around a hundred extra buses, escorted bike rides, marshalled taxi ranks, and capacity for 10,000 more journeys on the river have been organised to help keep Londoners moving. Volunteers will also be positioned at Tube, bus, and rail stations to assist Londoners with their journeys and provide maps and other useful information.
The Union leaderships have been urged to reconsider their action and London Underground remains ready to engage in constructive talks at any time in order to avoid unnecessary disruption to Londoners. However, preparations are underway to minimise the impact if action does take place.
Unions are threatening to disrupt Londoners despite being given assurances that staffing changes proposed by London Underground will mean no compulsory redundancies, that every station that currently has a ticket office will continue to have one, and that stations will remain staffed at all times. Disruption is expected from the late afternoon of Monday 6 September, and is expected to last throughout Tuesday 7 September if the union leadership goes ahead with the strike.
Londoners who own a bike are encouraged to cycle to work. Cycle parking facilities are being made easier for newcomers to access, and a Cycling Journey Planner will be available on TfL's website. The 5,000 Barclays Cycle Hire bikes will be available to members of the scheme, and TfL's contractors will be working to ensure that bikes are redistributed as effectively as possible.
London Overground, Tramlink, and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) services will be operating as normal, although some stations where there is an interchange with London Underground may be affected.
London Underground is working to operate as many services as possible, but passengers are advised that significant disruption is possible and that alternative travel options and staggering journey times should be considered where possible.
Should the strike go ahead, Londoners and visitors are being advised to plan ahead and check before they travel. All the latest travel information and details of alternative travel options will be available at http://www.tfl.gov.uk.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "Londoners are a hardy bunch and I am sure a Tube strike will not deter us from getting around. I have asked TfL to pull out all the stops. But we must be clear that the RMT and TSSA plan to inconvenience Londoners for no good reason. The extra measures we have put in call for a team effort and people will need to consider buses, boats or bikes as an alternative to their usual journeys. But this planned action will cause disruption for millions of Londoners and I call on the unions to get round the table and show common sense."
Currently, RMT and TSSA maintenance and engineering staff will begin their 24-hour strike at 17:00 on Monday September 6, and other RMT and TSSA Tube staff, including station staff and some drivers, will start at 21:00.
Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy said: "We continue to make every effort to avoid a dispute. There is no need for any action as the changes we are introducing come with no compulsory redundancies, and mean that stations will remain staffed at all times and every station with a ticket office will continue to have one.
"We regret that Londoners will be disrupted if the strike goes ahead, however the RMT and TSSA leadership will not stop London Underground from moving with the times. Due to the success of Oyster just one journey in twenty now involves a ticket office, and some ticket offices sell fewer than ten tickets an hour. The Mayor and TfL have prepared plans to keep London moving and thousands of TfL staff will be on hand across the city help our passengers.
"A massive effort is being made including boosting bus and river services, providing shared taxi services and escorted commuter cycle rides, and distributing thousands of walking maps across central London. We urge everyone travelling in and around London during the strike to check before you travel and to consider the wide range of alternative travel options by going to http://www.tfl.gov.uk as well as staggering your normal journeys where possible."