Strikes and Alternate Transit Modes in London

The Wall Street Journal notes that the London Underground (metro or subway) is on strike and that transit riders are having to find alternate ways to get around. This is of course, not good news, and the transit strikes that happen often in places like Paris and periodically in places like Los Angeles and Philadelphia are a serious impediment to transit’s growth (along with spending on extravagant projects and excessive and rising operating costs).

By 2000, the entire London bus system had been converted to competitive tendering, with multiple contractors providing the service. Costs per mile dropped by 50%, adjusted for inflation, while service was expanded and ridership rose. Regrettably, some of the efficiency gains were lost once Ken Livingstone assumed the mayorality of the new Greater London Council, while Transport for London (the successor to London Transport) failed to pay sufficient attention to retaining economic competitiveness between the contractors. Still, things are far better today than they were 25 years ago.

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