London Tube strike; chaos ensues

Peak hour traffic in London is hardly smooth and congestion-free, but last Thursday, Londoners experienced one of the worst evening commutes in recent memory. A 24-hour strike by Tube workers brought the Underground trains to a complete stop – the first time in 13 years.

The strike was called because the Underground and Unions failed to come to an agreement over the wage scheme for the upcoming Night Tube. When the Night Tube rolls out on 12 September, some parts of the network will run for 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, so that shift workers and, well, late-night carousers can still make their way home using the Tube. The Unions say that issues about pay, health & safety and working conditions have not been addressed satisfactorily by the London Underground. One of the Unions, the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, tweeted that:

“Been trying to negotiate for 18 months to avoid today, but London Underground’s intransigence is cause of #tubestrike”

London Mayor, Boris Johnson, told radio station LBC, on the day before the strike, that: “The thing is ridiculous, and it is not a well-founded strike.”

He added that the Underground workers had already been offered “a very, very fair deal”.

About four million trips are made daily on the Underground. Millions of commuters and tourists found themselves scrambling for alternative means of transport – by bus, train, taxi, bicycles or on foot – to get to their destinations. In anticipation of the strike, more buses and river boat services were arranged, according to the Transport for London, but these and the roads were swamped on Thursday morning.

Long but orderly queues for the red buses.

A visualization of the traffic above ground, provided by GPS navigation service provider, TomTom, showed all major roads in the city stuffed with crawling vehicles, like a clogged arterial system, which we imagine elevated the blood pressure of some millions of London denizens that day.

The Tube service returned to normal the following morning.

first & second images: CNN; bottom image: TomTom via BBC

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