5 ways to reduce London Underground budget deficit that the Mayor should seriously take into consideration
In view of rising wages and running costs, the London Underground has decreed that unless drastic cost cutting measures are taken, it will run into billions of pounds in red in the near future.
In other words, the Tube may be no more when London is due to host the Olympics in 2012.
Here are five ways Mayor Boris Johnson could reduce the London Underground's deficit.
1. Ask for volunteer train drivers
It's every child's dream to be able to drive the train one day. There's something alluring about being able to sit in front of the train, staring down at the unending tunnel and not knowing whether there would be someone (or something) lying across the tracks around the next bend.
Sack all train drivers and ask for volunteers among the passengers to drive the train. Absolutely no training is required; with just a pair of tracks in front, it's hard to get it wrong. Once the passenger drivers reach their destination, ask for another volunteer.
Considering that the starting pay of a Tube train driver is £40,000, removing all paid drivers will take a chunk out of London Underground's running cost while increasing passengers' satisfaction. Better still, start charging the volunteer drivers for the time spent behind the wheels. If more than one passenger volunteer, have they bid against each other.
2. Implement a service charge for Tube rides
Regardless of what Londoners think, the Tube staff is providing them a service and there should be a 12.5% service charge imposed on the the Tube fares. The level of service is irrelevant - try telling the local Italian pizzeria that you are not paying service charge because its service was non-satisfactory.
3. Outlaw busking and provide value added services
Remove all the buskers. Why let these independent musicians reap the benefits of entertaining Tube commuters? It's not like they pay any rental in the first place. Install jukeboxes that blast loud heavy metal music in a continuous loop - passengers have the option of paying to have it shut down. Recommended rate: £1 per 30 seconds of peace and quiet.
4. Allow smoking and drinking in the London Underground
If passengers would like to drink and smoke on trains, why stop them? Let them pay to have this privilege. £1 for the right to smoke and drink in the Tube for a day or £15 for a month's concession (a whopping 50% discount).
For non-smoking passengers, charge them for using non-smoking cabins. Why should they not pay since they are already saving on cigarettes?
5. Maximise use of disused stations
The Tube has been in existence for more than a century with many disused stations lying in London subterranean. The Mayor should consider allowing these stations to be used for private theme parties. I suspect 'Zombies in the London Underground' would be a great hit.
Have you got any other suggestions?