Hare-brained plan to close Olympia footbridge
Tuesday June 19, 2012
Photograph by Joshua Brown (used under Creative Commons Public Licence)
Plans to close a public right of way across a footbridge at Kensington Olympia station have provoked an angry backlash from west London residents.
Ticket barriers are set to be installed at the entrances to Olympia station as part of Transport for London’s (TfL) plans to tackle fare evasion.
Hammersmith & Fulham (H&F) Council backs TfL’s moves to target fare dodgers but argues that this should not be at the expense of local residents – who have used the footbridge as a useful cut through for decades.
The council says it is possible to install the ticket barriers on the platforms so that they are nearer the tracks – which would maintain the public right of way over the footbridge.
However, TfL have ignored the council’s advice and have dreamt up a complicated permit system which has been roundly criticised by residents in H&F and neighbouring Kensington and Chelsea.
Under TfL’s ‘station permit’ scheme some selected residents from the area will be allocated paper tickets, coded to only work at the Olympia gates, so they can get over the bridge. Residents in a tightly designated area will need to prove their address and permits will not be issued to residents’ visitors or people from just outside the area.
Around 50 residents have already written to the council to complain about TfL’s scheme and seek help in demanding a re-think.
Sinclair Road resident Brendan McGrath said: “Even by suggesting this hare-brained scheme TfL is acknowledging that this is an established right of way. But they are pushing residents too far. First they reduce the District Line weekday service now they are coming up with a chaotic and haphazard scheme to make some pretty beleaguered residents’ lives even more difficult.
“We were told the C1 bus and the Boris bikes were an alternative to using the District Line. Now residents are effectively being cut off from these, so-called, alternatives.”
TfL claims that ‘ticketless travel’ at the station – near the popular conference and exhibition venue – is as high as 10%, while across the rest of the Overground it is just 2%.
Cllr Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler, H&F Cabinet Member for Transport and Technical Services, says: “While we all want fare dodgers to be targeted, this ill-thought-out permit system is a bureaucratic nightmare which will be complicated and costly to administer.
“It would be far easier and fairer for residents if TfL installed ticket barriers that do not obstruct the public right of way over the footbridge in the first place. The council is calling on TfL to reconsider this barmy plan before it’s too late.”
TfL is holding a ‘Meet the Manager’ session at Kensington Olympia during the evening rush hour on Thursday (June 21) to answer questions about the proposed permit scheme. Or to find out more email: Vicky.Kafetzi@tfl.gov.uk.