London commuters are dealing with long queues and delays as they try navigating the capital during a strike that has shut down the Tube network.
About 250 extra buses have been laid on but there are fears of potential gridlock if commuters switch to cars.
The 24-hour strike by four unions began on Wednesday evening and there will be no Tube service until Friday.
Unions are unhappy at conditions offered to drivers on a new Night Tube service due to start next month.
Even those aiming to beat the crowds and setting out on their journeys by 06:00 BST faced travel problems.
Others have been more creative with how they executed their journeys.
Steve Davison tweeted: “#tubestrike genius – just saw some guys flag down a London open top tour bus to get to work. Crazy line at bus stop versus an open top ride.”
- An extra 250 buses are operating but cash will not be accepted by drivers and commuters must use Oyster or cashless cards
- The Docklands Light Railway, London Overground, tram and Transport for London (TfL) rail services are running, although are expected to be much busier than usual
- There will be additional river buses on the Thames
- Extra bicycles will be available to hire from London’s cycle hire scheme
- The congestion charge remains in place
- More than 600 “travel ambassadors” will be offering help and advice to travellers
- Taxi marshals will be operating at some mainline stations.
- There is also travel information available on the TfL website.
The strike, which follows a 24-hour stoppage on 8-9 July, saw Tube staff leave work between 18:30 and 21:30 BST on Wednesday.
Members of Aslef, the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT), Unite and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) are all involved in the dispute.
Many union members will be standing on picket lines throughout the duration of the strike, which is over concerns new rotas to accommodate the night service will mean greater weekend working.
London Underground (LU) has apologised for the disruption, saying the latest offer – a 2% salary increase this year, an extra £200 per night shift for drivers for a limited time, and a £500 bonus for Night Tube staff – was aimed at improving work-life balance.
Mayor Boris Johnson called the latest offer “incredibly generous”, and said he would not authorise any more money or negotiate while unions were “holding a gun to Londoners heads”.
He said: “The way forward is to get this excellent deal to their membership. They should call off this stupid strike and put the deal to their members.
“No driver is being asked to work more hours than they do today. “
But Mick Whelan, the General Secretary of Aslef said: “The Tube driver works intensively in very awkward conditions. It affects their health, work-life balance and they don’t have the best of lives.”
He said the competency and skill levels required by Tube drivers exceeded that of bus drivers and as such staff needed to be compensated.
“We are not against the Night Tube in its run in a reasonable and adequate manner… but I don’t believe it can be delivered [by 12 September],” he said.
A striking Tube driver, who later admitted he was an RMT representative, phoned BBC London 94.9 to say he had seen the new rosters and they showed LU would be “spreading staff much more thinly” to maintain the Night Tube.
He said: “As well as being made to work more nights and weekends they’re also being displaced and told to work 30 minutes up the line and that their duties can be changed at 24 hours’ notice. But of course there’s been no mention of that.”
Steve Griffiths, LU’s chief operating officer, told the BBC: “The Night Tube… cannot be at any cost. They’re clearly not understanding our commitment to work life-balance.
“We’ve recruited 500 additional staff specifically to run the Night Tube and that’s across stations and train operators.
“No-one’s being asked to work extra hours… we’ve also committed that our train operators will have the same number of weekends off today as when they do Night Tube.”
One official from the RMT also told BBC London that members would “escalate action” in the run-up to the scheduled start of the night service.
Mr Johnson added he was “not fussed” about the night service starting on 12 September as planned, as long as it started in the autumn.
Key points of the dispute
- The RMT, TSSA, Unite and Aslef unions say the dispute with London Underground (LU) is about workers’ pay and conditions associated with the new night Tube working
- Union members have voted 9:1 in favour of strike action. Aslef said 81% of its members responded to the ballot
- The unions have rejected a deal including a 2% average pay rise for all Tube employees plus a £500 launch bonus
- The unions say they want Tube workers to be fairly compensated for night working, which has been linked to poor health
- LU says it put forward an “extremely fair revised offer”
- LU says it is hiring 137 more train operators to work on the night Tube, which would result in existing workers doing “a few extra nights per year within the existing working week”
- LU says no-one was being asked to work more hours than at present
- The offer includes a pay increase in 2016-17 of RPI or 1%, whichever is greater, a £500 bonus in February 2016 after the completion of customer service modernisation plans
- Night drivers will also receive an extra £200 per night Tube shift during a short transition period, after which they will have the choice whether or not to work night shifts, under LU’s latest offer.
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