A new report has suggested that the London Underground system could benefit from a range of improvements, from free superfast 4G to toilets for passengers, if Tube stations are sponsored by companies. If the Underground stations are funded or sponsored by companies like Oyster can result in improvement of stations. Several features could be installed in the underground stations like TV screens, toilets, lifts, 4G connectivity etc. that are going to be hugely beneficial for the passengers.
Transport for London (TfL) has always been resistant to the idea of allowing Tube stations to be sponsored, but the report from Gareth Bacon of GLA Conservatives urges bosses to consider such commercial deals as a way to pay for much-needed improvements that TfL itself can’t afford.
In the report, which is entitled “Sealing the Deal: TfL sponsorship feasibility study”, Gareth Bacon outlines a number of ways that sponsorship could benefit passengers and the Underground network in general. The money it generates could be used to fund free 4G – customers currently have to rely on mobile phone contracts on EE and other networks offering 4G, if they can get a signal underground. It could also, according to Bacon, be used to offer free wireless access, toilets for passengers, lifts as well as TV screens.
In terms of 4G connectivity, TfL may have to partner with an operator such as Everything Everywhere (EE), which was the very first to bring its superfast EE 4G phone network to the UK.
Several other underground railway services of major cities of the world already offers 3G as well as 4G connectivity in them. These major cities include MTR in Hong Kong in addition with Metropolitan Subway of Seoul. While the other railway services of New York, Sydney and Paris has announced that they will be providing 3G and also 4G services on their trains in the coming couple of years.
Townsend has recently revealed that there may be several other issues that may come up, other than investments from network companies, which are needed to be taken into account while implementing the new technology in one of the world’s oldest underground railway service.
Also last year Tfl has started to roll the London Underground railway stations with Wi-Fi’s, which was helped by Virgin Media. At the present time there are 120 railway stations out of 270 that are offering Wi-Fi service to the passengers.
The report also argues that corporate sponsorship could help to offset increases in fares, which are planned for the end of the year, which could make life easier for cash-strapped passengers.
Lastly, Mr Bacon also used the report to state that a rebrand of stations needn’t be prohibitively expensive, as TfL claims. The company says that renaming Tube stations with new sponsored names would cost £4 million a time, whilst Bacon uses evidence from the temporary closure of Blackfriars to show that changing signage twice only cost £8,500 across the whole of the network. He also said that map reprinting would only cost £77,295, whereas TfL is claiming that the total cost of redesigning and printing maps for the whole network would be at least £150,000.