Earlier today I was helping Mum to the station after she’d been down to stay with us for a few days. We were on the Piccadilly line, and I started to notice that the driver was doing a lot of talking. Apart from his upbeat and friendly tone—itself sadly a rarity it seems—he had something useful to say before each stop.
He was telling us things like:
- Which side of the train the doors would open.
- Where the elevators were located on the platforms and how many people could fit in them (“This elevator has a capacity of fifteen, one five, persons”!)
- Short cuts for interchange between lines (“you’ll find it quicker to go up to the ticket hall but then do a U-turn and go back down to the Jubilee line”)
- Between which stations it would be possible to make a mobile phone call.
Some of his attempts at humour may not have been to everyone’s taste…
Cross the platform for the District line to Barking. That’s Barking, woof woof!
…but looking down the carriage I saw more than one person with a smile on their face. On a dreary London afternoon that’s got to be a win.
As we started to reach Central London his comments became more like mini tourist information, calling out the interesting places that are near each station and I heard at least one person comment, “Oh I didn’t know that was there!”
I’ve lived in London since 2004 and I’ve never heard a tube driver put so much effort and personality into their announcements. It was a really welcome surprise; too often you can hear the exasperation in the drivers’ words and they don’t even say “please.” It’s worse than leaving it to the automated announcements.
No one loves their job all day every day and you can’t manufacture sincere enthusiasm, but it makes so much difference. Naturally we primarily want the trains to be punctual and reliable, but once that is covered, having an actually pleasant personality when dealing with the public also goes a long way.
So I was thinking, Transport for London employees probably just get a lot of grief when things go wrong, and a lot of the time that will be entirely out of their control anyway, but still they have to be the interface with the public and deal with it. Here is a chap that did personally go out of his way to do a good job; someone should say thanks. Maybe he’ll keep doing it. Maybe he’ll get others to do it.
I’d like to say thanks to him for making our journey entertaining and for helping to make London a more appealing city for our visitors. How do I make sure his manager sees this?
It was a Piccadilly line train headed for Cockfosters. It arrived at Piccadilly Circus at 13:20 Wednesday 29th August.
Update: Looks like it was this guy:
Opinions are divided!
Personally I would take his cheery announcements every day twice a day rather than the norm. Don’t stop!