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Dear TFL,

I am writing to you to express my dissatisfaction with your service in general, but also in response to a specific experience of mine on Monday 5th December 2011.

I appreciate that you have an extremely complex network of public transport to run, but I can’t help but wonder how you come to make some of the decisions you inflict upon the very public you are supposed to be supporting. I have come to accept that, living in the centre of London, it is now fairly standard for me not to be able to use the underground to get anywhere at the weekend. In fact I can tell you that where I live, I have access to no fewer than 4 underground lines within a 5 minute walk, at Tower Hill and Aldgate/Aldgate East. I can also tell you that it is only recently that I have been able to use any of them to travel to, for example, a major network rail station. Thank goodness for the buses eh?

This brings me to my next point.

I am somewhat confused as to whether Transport For London are responsible for, well, Transport for London, or whether it’s just the Underground you are responsible for? I ask because a bus driver recently told me that ‘the trains are nothing to do with the buses.’ Now whilst I am obviously not unable to grasp the concept that trains and buses are indeed different forms of transportation, I must confess that I was also under the impression that they were at least under the same, if not a similar authority? Hence London’s renowned ‘Rail Replacement Service’ for example.

You see, my recent experience involved both the underground trains and the buses. Quite a journey you might be thinking, and yes indeed it was, though it shouldn’t have been. My planned journey was to travel from South Kensington to Tower Gateway, something which I should be able to do with relative ease on a Monday night, being as it is serviced by both the Circle and District lines. Unfortunately on this particular evening, a fault had resulted in an indeterminate delay on both lines, effectively meaning that neither were running. Of course, as seems to be standard practice in London Underground stations, this information was not provided to us until after we had ‘tapped in’ with our oyster cards and essentially paid our fare. Why is that the case by the way? Is it not possible to move the board on which your staff scrawl the notices that trains aren’t running on the outside of the barriers? If we had known we were unable to get home directly on the trains, we could have caught a bus which would have taken us all the way. However, not wanting to lose our fare completely, we opted to travel on the Piccadilly line to Covent Garden, where we would then catch a bus from Aldwych to Tower Gateway, as we decided that travelling the entire journey on the Underground (i.e. all the way up to Kings Cross/St Pancras then down to Aldgate) was an unreasonable and time consuming detour.

Anyway, I digress. When we got to Aldwych, our first bus drove straight past without even looking at the stop, from which we were waving frantically. Our second bus arrived after approximately 25 minutes, and it was at this point that I discovered that I had used the last of my Oyster credit on the Underground, which as I’ve said we would not have used in the first place, had we known we would not be able to use the Circle and District lines. After trying to explain to the driver that the reason I didn’t have any credit was because the Underground was at fault and we had had to come out of our way just to get on this bus in the first place, it was at this point that he kindly explained to me that ‘the trains are nothing to do with the buses.’ I then had to jump off the bus and buy a ticket which thankfully I was able to do before he pulled away.

So approximately an hour and a half after we had begun what should have been a 30 minute journey, and for over twice the price it should have cost, we got off the bus and made our way home. With no thanks to TFL.

As I feel TFL were so far in the wrong on this particular occasion I have included my bus ticket in the expectation that you will refund me the cost in full. I have attached my address and bank details and look forward to hearing from you.

Yours Faithfully,