Tim O'Toole interview

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Tim O'Toole interview

Joined: 05 Jul 2007, 02:18

24 Aug 2007, 23:49 #1

http://www.timeout.com/london/features/ ... tions.html
Tube boss answers your questions

The man responsible for keeping 3.4 million of us on the move through the capital every day hears your concerns about pricing, security and all those free papers

Time Out: Why is the tube one of the most expensive underground systems in the world?
If you have an Oyster card, you won’t experience a great fare increase. The cash fares are high because we want people to move on to Oyster, which is a more efficient way to collect revenue and more convenient for people. Over the longer term, tube fares have gone up at about RPI (Retail Price Index) plus one, which – if you consider the mass building programme we are undergoing – is actually a fairly moderate increase. Fares have been historically high because we do generate the coverage of our costs at the fare box; that’s a long-term political decision.

Isn’t it unfair to visitors who don’t have Oyster cards?
We’re finding that the only people who pay that cash fare are people who have more money than sense. It’s people in the City who just make an occasional journey. Visitors tend to buy travel cards. Having said that, we do need to find ways to get Oyster cards for visitors so we’re trying to come up with new initiatives, such as advanced fare machines where you can buy an Oyster card without going to a window.

So once everyone’s got an Oyster the fares wont go up?
It’s the Mayor’s decision and he makes it in light of government funding. I hope fares are not going up in the near future. My only caveat is that we are in a long-term building programme and fares will always be an ingredient in paying for that.

Are we safer on the tube now than before 7/7?
The tube remains an extremely safe environment. But since 7/7 we have delivered more CCTV cameras. At the time of 7/7 we probably had 6,000, we’re well above 8,000 now and we’re heading towards 12,000. We have continued our deployment of British Transport Police. Years ago, when I started here, we had about 430. We now have 678. We are continuing to pursue technology which we may use someday; most recently we ran an investigation into air flow at St John’s Wood [in case of chemical attack]. But with more than a billion people being moved a year, it isn’t possible for us to employ the kind of vetting devices you’d see in an airport. It’s highly unlikely metal detectors will be introduced. I am confident we are employing the best practices but it’s an open system which means it will always remain vulnerable. But statistically you stand more chance of being struck by lightning than facing a security problem on the underground.

What are you doing to alleviate overcrowding?
This is the big issue. The only solution is the rebuilding that will deliver new signal systems and new trains. We will be delivering the first major new initiative in that regard on the Jubilee Line in 2009. We’ll then follow on the Northern and Victoria Lines. Then we’ll introduce a new sub-surface fleet which will be the first one to be air conditioned. We’ve got to stay with CrossRail [a new line to open in 2009 that will connect Paddington to the City and link up Heathrow, Canary Wharf, Berkshire and Essex] that’s where the political tension has to be focused. Also, the delivery of Thameslink will help relieve congestion. We’ve also got plans to extend the Bakerloo south. There’s some interesting ideas involving Hackney and the south-east, but we’ve got a long way to go before we get there. First we must rebuild the underground we have, second we must deliver CrossRail. The challenge for us will be to keep London moving over the next five or six years. It’s a challenge for passengers to recognise change is coming, but it takes time, and it’s a challenge for the government. We can’t get wobbly on the funding. The price of not rebuilding is not the service you see now, it is something worse because it will begin to degrade given the extreme use it’s being put to.

You seem to doubt the government. Is it committed to investment?
I hope so. I’m going to keep on reminding all of us that we are in this together. It’s not just the trains that need changing, we need to rebuild the stations, too: Victoria, Tottenham Court Road, Bank and Bond Street stations all need work. It’s a system that was perceived as the greatest in the world at one time and there’s no reason why we can’t get back to that.

Will it be up to scratch for the 2012 Olympics?
We will have brought in the new Jubilee Line; we will increase the electricity power available to the Central Line to sustain a higher frequency service for a longer time; we will have rebuilt every single station with modern CCTV cameras; have aids for the visually and hearing impaired; there will be step-free access to more than 25 per cent of the network; and we will be into the new air-conditioned trains. It could be a very different underground from what you see now.

Why is it so hard to install decent air conditioning?
Air conditioning is a heat exchange. If you take the heat out the train you are going to dump it in a tunnel, and if it’s a deep-level tube you have to have some way to extract that heat. We have the chiller test going on at Victoria Station [a pilot involving water pumped in from a nearby underground river, which cools the hot air. The heated water is then pumped out into the Thames]. We are about to commence the construction of a bore hole that could be used to provide cooling at a deep-level station. We’re also seeing if we can cool the new Jubilee Line trains, and we’re rejuvenating all the fans throughout the network that have been allowed to fall into disuse. But ultimately we have to find money for improvements.

Why is it a good thing to be able to use mobiles underground?
You can already use your mobiles on 60 per cent of the system. It is the ultimate fall-back safety device. I’m not especially looking forward to the day when you’ll have a cacophony of people talking on their mobiles underground, but we are going to trial it on the Waterloo and City [in April 2008]. I still think this is light years away.

What has happened to the promise of later hours?
We couldn’t justify paying what the unions were asking. We’ll bring late-night running in when those negotiations are concluded.

Will we ever see a 24-hour service?
No, never. We have a single track. New York does it because it has a four-track system.

What are you doing about the mass of free papers dumped all over the trains?
They cause a great deal of litter and make things look shabby. The infracos [the private sector companies who manage the tube under PPP] are contracted to clean them up and they’re running fairly aggressive recycling programmes. The difficulty is that we can’t limit what people bring with them on the trains. We just have to deal with the consequences of this paper war that is being waged.

Can you assure us that London transport is in safe hands in light of the recent revelations about its drinking culture?
I wouldn’t call it a drinking culture. It’s a very sad story about Mr Kiley. I’m sorry that happened to him. But Londoners can judge the management of LU based on what they’ve seen lately and what they’ve seen is a management and employees who responded to probably the greatest challenge since the Second World War, in the challenge of 7/7. When Londoners reflect on what we are able to do with such old assets, I’m sure they have faith in us. As to whether Bob Kiley does ‘nothing much with his time’, I couldn’t say much about that. It’s a relationship that’s handled by TfL.

Do you use the tube?
The tube is the only way I go. I don’t own a car. I’m one of the more avid users of the tube. Am I ever late for work? I’m so used to the many different ways you can go, so if there are delays I’ll find a different route. My favourite station is Embankment. It is so critical to London. When you come out, you’re in Villiers Street and you see all those people funnelled up to the Strand; that represents London’s vitality and the relationship that LU has with the city.

Isn’t your job totally thankless?
No, no, no: I have the best job in London by far. Its not easy when you know that the weaknesses in the system cause pain to the people you are trying to serve and my stomach does clench every time we have a signal failure or a train is down. But on the other hand I get so much energy from the job we do. I wear this badge [name tag] when I travel the system and you would be surprised when I tell you how nice people are.
Psychologically, Londoners have put up with a neglected tube for so long that they think it will always be like this. But it wont. It can and will be much better, as long as we all keep the faith and keep the programme going.

Interview: Rebecca Taylor, Tue Apr 17 2007
But Duncan, what men believe isn't important - it's our actions which make us right or wrong. - Alasdair Gray - Lanark

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

25 Feb 2009, 11:26 #2

Managing director of London Underground Tim O'Toole resigns

    * Dan Milmo, transport correspondent
    * The Guardian, Wednesday 25 February 2009

The administration of the London mayor, Boris Johnson, has been dealt a blow with the resignation of one of the capital's most highly rated public servants.

Tim O'Toole quit as managing director of London Underground last night after guiding the tube network through a turbulent six years.

O'Toole, a US citizen who was awarded an honorary CBE for his organisation's response to the July 7 attacks said last night that it was "time to go home" with his family to the US.

The loss of the former freight industry executive leaves a significant management gap in the Johnson regime, which has relied on O'Toole to grapple with a funding deficit in the tube network that, according to some industry estimates, runs to at least £3bn over the next decade.

"I fully understand Tim's desire to return home after six years serving London. During that time he has led from the front and made huge progress in delivering an improved tube after decades of under-investment," said Johnson.

O'Toole and Johnson have laid the blame for the tube funding gap at the door of the government and Gordon Brown, who as chancellor imposed a controversial Public Private Partnership (PPP) programme to upgrade the tube until 2030.

The controversial scheme partly imploded in 2007 when the biggest contractor, Metronet, went bankrupt after overspending by at least £2bn. It was effectively nationalised by the mayor's transport body, Transport for London.

The remaining PPP contractor, Tube Lines, has also warned of a funding gap of at least £1.4bn, forcing O'Toole and Johnson to demand a government bail-out.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

25 Feb 2009, 11:29 #3

From The Times
February 25, 2009

Tim O’Toole resigns from London Underground amid row over £5bn shortfall
Ben Webster, Transport Correspondent

The man overseeing the upgrade and expansion of London Underground has resigned amid a growing row over a £5 billion shortfall in the public funding for the project.

Tim O’Toole, the Underground’s managing director, will return to his native United States at a critical time for the network, when plans to relieve overcrowding on several lines are hanging in the balance.

His decision is a blow to Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, who was counting on Mr O’Toole’s experience and skills to ensure that as much of the upgrade as possible survived the funding squeeze.

Mr O’Toole, 54, had also made veiled attacks on Gordon Brown’s failure to fulfil promises made when, as Chancellor, he forced through part-privatisation of the Tube six years ago.

The District, Circle, Metropolitan, Bakerloo and Piccadilly lines are all due to have about 20-30 per cent more trains per hour added over the next few years. But plans to buy more trains and replace the signalling to allow for the expansion are now in doubt.

The collapse of Metronet, one of two companies appointed by the Government to maintain and upgrade the Tube, has left London Underground struggling to find the money to complete the work it was contracted to do.

LU is cutting 1,000 jobs and delaying station refurbishments. Mr Johnson insists the Tube upgrade is his top priority but his decision to fund Crossrail, a new main line railway due to be built under central London by 2017, means extra capacity on existing underground lines may be sacrificed.

The official reason given for Mr O’Toole’s resignation is that he wants to spend more time with his wife and two grown-up children back in the US. But they have always lived in the US during Mr O’Toole’s six years at LU and, until now, he was happy to return at regular intervals to visit them.

Mr O’Toole, who ran one of the biggest freight train companies in the US, was recruited by Ken Livingstone, the former mayor. He is the last of the senior Americans at Transport for London who were dubbed “Kiley’s People” after Bob Kiley, the New York subway boss whom Mr Livingston recruited as Commissioner of Transport for London.

Mr O’Toole, who was on a salary of £450,000, said last night: “I am sad to leave LU but after six years in London it is time to go home. LU’s customers and employees can look forward to the continuing transformation of the Tube with the delivery of major projects between now and the London 2012 games. I am particularly proud that LU employees have achieved record operating results and all-time high levels of customer satisfaction in this past year. I shall always be grateful for the privilege of being part of such a great institution.” Mr Johnson said: “I fully understand Tim’s desire to return home after six years serving London. During that time he has led from the front and made huge progress in delivering an improved Tube after decades of under investment. Tim has been a magnificent public servant and we will build on the fantastic legacy he leaves in the years ahead. I wish him and his family all the very best.” Peter Hendy, London’s Commissioner of Transport, said:

“Tim has led LU to its highest levels of performance while carrying record numbers of passengers - all at a time of great change as billions are invested to improve the Tube. His leadership was exemplified by getting London moving again so quickly after the terrorist attacks of July 2005. We will greatly miss him as a colleague and I will miss him as a friend.” Mr O’Toole will step down from LU at the end of April. His resignation clearly caught TfL by surprise. A spokesman said Mr O’Toole’s role “will be advertised shortly”.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti

Joined: 26 Nov 2005, 01:46

25 Feb 2009, 11:36 #4

Another reason for O'Toole's departure?
Boris pledges to cut pay and bonus deals of top TfL managers
Pippa Crerar

Boris Johnson today promised to review millions of pounds worth of bonuses paid out to senior Transport for London staff during the economic downturn.

The Mayor confirmed he would reconsider the cash payments - worth £2.9 million last year - as part of his efficiency savings at the Tube and bus body.

He acknowledged public frustration that 123 high-level TfL staff earned more than £100,000 a year, with many also raking in performance-related bonuses, while ordinary Londoners were struggling through the credit crunch.

His pledge comes as TfL's top management face mounting criticism for the almost total failure to provide bus and Tube service during last week's snowfall.

However, Mr Johnson told the London Assembly: "If you look at the satisfaction rates of both the Tube and the bus service they are extremely high.

"But I'm conscious of people's feelings. I understand where they're coming from and yes of course we are reviewing bonuses as well as the overall salary figures."

He added: "We are going through a programme of reducing the numbers of senior officials in TfL who are paid very considerable sums and I think that is what Londoners expect.

"We are making every effort to reduce the numbers out of the ranks of very senior TfL officials who are earning numbers in excess of £100,000."

However, the Mayor warned of the importance of TfL being able to attract the best civil engineers to work on major transport infrastructure projects like Crossrail.

"In the long term if you don't have good people then you will simply rack up more costs," he said.

Mr Johnson has announced savings of £2.4 billion in efficiencies at TfL over the next 10 years, including job cuts.

TfL is understood to have agreed to employ consultants to look at how further savings could be found, including examining pay structures and bonuses.

The Standard revealed last year that 123 TfL managers earned more than £100,000 each in 2007/8 - a total of more than £17 million in salaries and bonuses.

By contrast, the Treasury, responsible for the entire UK economy, had just 15 six-figure earners.

The top earner is believed to be former Transport Commissioner Bob Kiley, who made £540,000, with present chief Peter Hendy picking up between £425,000 and £450,000.

The average pay, benefits and bonuses of TfL's top management last year was £140,000 - £2,500 higher than the Mayor.

Fifteen TfL managers, including the director of marketing, earned more than the Prime Minister.

The Mayor has scrapped plans for £3 billion worth of new transport links across London, proposed by Ken Livingstone, because of lack of funding.

TfL will instead focus on upgrading existing Tube lines - which will provide a 28 per cent increase in capacity by 2018.
�To those who are afraid of the truth, I wish to offer a few scary truths; and to those who are not afraid of the truth, I wish to offer proof that the terrorism of truth is the only one that can be of benefit to the proletariat.� -- On Terrorism and the State, Gianfranco Sanguinetti