Do we Need Tube Station Ticket Offices in an Automated World?

By Gary Cutlack on at

When did you last talk to a member of staff in a London Underground ticket office? Maybe once, nine years ago, when you left a phone on a train and thought you'd give the Lost Property Office a million-to-one shot? There's no need for people in booths in 2015, is there?

Union bosses claim the loss of ticketing staff at Queensway and South Wimbledon -- which have become the first stations to close existing ticket offices -- will make things more complex for travellers. Boris Johnson and TfL say having more ticket machines and sticking the staff on barriers instead will mitigate any changes.

The facts are we hate looking at and talking to strange people. Financial transactions can be done through screens. We have cards that magically let us pay for our trips without breaking stride. Surely there's no need for men in uniforms to be stationed anywhere inside the tube nowadays?

The future isn't a man looking at a scrunched-up ticket you've had in your pocket and have been nervously rolling and unrolling all day. It's sterile and done on a screen, with satellites tracking our movements so they know if we've paid enough. Ticket offices are best closed and converted to pasty shops, until they can find a way to feed us over NFC, aren't they? [Standard]