FOI request detail

Ticket Office Closure Programme

Request ID: FOI-1190-1718
Date published: 15 September 2017

You asked

Dear Sir or Madam, I hope this email finds you well. Please could I make an FOI request for the following information: - How many of London’s 268 Tube ticket offices have been closed, how many have been sold/rented out and how many are now operation as shops/businesses? - How much were each of these premises sold for? or how much are they each being rented for? - How many incidents of abuse have underground workers had in the past year? (This was apparently an issue in 2016 https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/sadiq-khan-urged-to-reopen-ticket-offices-at-tube-stations-after-spike-in-abuse-of-staff-a3362266.html) - How many ticket machine breakdowns have there been since the closure of ticket offices? How long on average have repairs taken?

We answered

TfL Ref: 1190-1718

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 17 August 2017 asking for information about tube ticket offices.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm that we hold the information you require. You asked:

-          How many of London’s 268 Tube ticket offices have been closed, how many have been sold/rented out and how many are now operation as shops/businesses?

In total, ticket offices at 256 Tube stations were closed in 2015. A small number of ticket offices at stations on the Tube network remain open. Eleven form part of Network Rail’s infrastructure and are expected to close later this year, subject to agreement from London TravelWatch and the Department for Transport (Gunnersbury, Harlesden, Harrow & Wealdstone, Kensal Green, Kenton, Kew Gardens, North Wembley, Queen’s Park, South Kenton, Stonebridge Park, and Wembley Central). Open ticket offices at other locations (e.g., Wimbledon) are not managed by London Underground (LU) but rather by other train operating companies.

To date London Underground have created four new commercial units, with work due to commence on six further units by April 2018. Other former ticket offices are used as station control points or for other operational purposes.

-          How much were each of these premises sold for? or how much are they each being rented for?

We have not sold any of these units. The units are rented to generate revenues to reinvest in the transport network. The level of rent set at former ticket offices converted into commercial use is calculated on a site-by-site basis, taking into account local market rates. The average negotiated lease agreement across the four units is £227.5k per annum. This figure could be liable to change dependent on the specific contracts agreed with each tenant.  

In accordance with the FOI Act, we are not obliged to supply all of the information on the individual rents for each of the units as it is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 43(2).

In this instance the exemption has been applied as it could prejudice our commercial interests as the withheld information contains details of the current rents paid by our tenants. It is likely that disclosure of this information would significantly impact on our future ability to negotiate successfully with potential new tenants. It is likely that disclosure would negatively affect TfL’s bargaining power in obtaining best value from public assets.  Any resulting reduction in TfL’s funds and income would have to be made up from other sources.

Whilst we recognise that there will be a high level of interest in the current market rents we charge and receive,  and that there is an inherent public interest in openness and clarity on the use of public assets,  we do not consider that there are any other strong public interest factors in favour of disclosure at this time. Whilst we recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities, in this instance the release of the requested information would have a detrimental effect on our ability to negotiate, adversely affecting our potential to secure value for the public. This detriment outweighs the general public interest in disclosure of the requested information.

-          How many incidents of abuse have underground workers had in the past year? (This was apparently an issue in 2016 https://www.standard.co.uk/news/transport/sadiq-khan-urged-to-reopen-ticket-offices-at-tube-stations-after-spike-in-abuse-of-staff-a3362266.html)

London Underground fully recognises the damaging effects of aggression and violence in any form against individuals and the organisation as a whole and is determined to take action to deal with the issue.

LU makes a clear distinction between workplace aggression and workplace violence as follows:

Definition of Workplace Aggression

LU defines workplace aggression as incidents in which persons are abused either verbally and/or through gestures in circumstances relating to their work, involving an explicit or implicit threat to their safety, wellbeing or health.

Definition of Workplace Violence

LU defines workplace violence as incidents in which persons are threatened and/or physically assaulted in circumstances relating to their work.

Definition of the LU workplace

The workplace is defined as any LU property, i.e. station, train, office, rolling stock depot or work premises, any non-LU station served by LU trains, and any other premises or sites visited by an LU employee while at work.

For the purposes of this request into incidents of abuse we have used figures for workplace aggression as this most closely matches the request.  

The below figures detail instances of workplace aggression each year from 2014.

2014-15           1381

2015 -16          1200

2016-17           942

We deplore aggression and violence towards our employees and recognise that aggression and violence is not an acceptable part of any job, nor is it the duty of any employee to accept violent behaviour towards them. LU will therefore afford all reasonable assistance to enable our employees to carry out their duties without fear of aggression and/or violence. We will take steps to reduce the risk of workplace aggression and violence towards our employees to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.

If workplace aggression does take place, we do all we can to ensure that individuals who assault employees in the workplace are brought to justice. Measures are also taken to investigate the causes of workplace aggression, both at individual level in order to ensure that incidents are properly investigated, where appropriate in conjunction with the British Transport Police, and within the industry more generally in order to identify appropriate actions

-          How many ticket machine breakdowns have there been since the closure of ticket offices? How long on average have repairs taken?

We have three different types of ticket machines on the London Underground network. These are: Multi Fare Machines (MFM), Advanced Fare Machines (AFM) and Queue Buster Machines (QBM). Most Tube stations have at least one MFM and one AFM, with some of the busier stations having several machines and also having a QBM.

MFM machines carry out all functionality and accept both notes and coins. AFMs accept bank cards and coins only, no notes. 95 of our MFMs have a Bank Note Recycler (BNR) where note change is also given. MFMs without this Bank Note Recycler are Bank Note Acceptors (BNA). These machines – which are the majority of our MFMs – will only give change in coins, not notes. QBMs are Oyster-only devices which do not accept cash. These are typically used by regular commuters topping up an Oystercard.

Please find attached the data which shows the average incident (fault) rate, total faults and average clearance time for each contract period (CP). The incident rate is the average number of faults a single device has per period. The average incident rate is calculated by dividing the number of faults by number of devices. Clearance time is calculated from the point the fault is logged to the time the fault has been fixed and the device back in full operational service. Please note that this data includes any fault that occurs with a ticket machine including those which do not result in the machine being out of service for example the note handling unit of an MFM could be faulty resulting in the MFM not being able to take notes but it could still be used with coins and bank cards.

This data is given for AFMs, MFMs and QBMs from January 2016. The data for MFMs has been further broken down between machines which do and do not give change in notes.  The Incident rate is the average number of faults a single device has per Period and the figures represent that per device.  

The reduction in MFM BNA period on period early in the data is due to the conversion of them gradually to the BNR version which will allow the upgraded devices to dispense notes to customers as change and for refunds.  

The reduction in the number of QBMs is due to the stations requiring the increased function the MFMs now provide to support the ticket office closures, i.e. QBM are top up and card-only machines, MFMs are cash and card for all products and have refund functionality.

The number of AFMs increasing was again to support stations with high customer volume with the ticket office closures.  AFMs are easier to install due to the size, less expensive to London Underground and we can fit more in a station, for example in the early days of the closure at Queensway needed more ticket machines to cope with demand so two AFMs were added.

If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for any reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.

Yours sincerely

Sara Thomas

FOI Case Management Team

General Counsel

Transport for London

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