London Subway Plans 24-Hour Service

Most lines on the New York subway system run continuously, except for planned work programs that sometimes reroute service.  Therefore, metropolitan area transit users may not realize that most urban rapid transit systems do not run all the time; this strategy reduces costs and allows needed maintenance to proceed unhindered by thundering trains.

In London, the Underground—London’s rapid transit system—has never run all night long. This may be changing, according to reporting by Katrin Bennhold in The New York Times (Nov. 22).  The Underground will begin running all night starting in 2015, a campaign promise of London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson.  The transition may not be easy, especially since Transport for London plans to cut costs at the same time, notably in closing ticket offices, eliminating about 750 jobs in the process.  Union leaders have forecast labor strife.  Ticketing and the present “smart” card, the Oyster card, will be phased out starting next year in favor of direct payments using bank debit cards.  Ten years ago, ticket windows sold 10% of the tickets used on the system; now that’s down to only 3%.  The nighttime service will begin first on Friday and Saturday nights on 5 lines in 2015 and will then expand to other lines and nights of the week.

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