Archive for London Underground

Why We Don’t Need Mobiles On The Tube

The world relentlessly moves forward; technology driving mankind into a new era of productivity that only fifty years ago would have been impossible. Through the internet we’re now both simultaneously connected and cut off from each other. At the drop of a hat we can video call family members across the globe. We can talk on Facebook, message each other on Twitter, or send emails. It’s a wonderful place, but at the same time digital fatigue is very much an issue.

This constant-connectivity is now possible thanks to a device smaller than a calculator. The majority of us are attached to our mobile phones; they’re as important as the shoes you wear. We’re able to conduct business on the train, talk on the bus, email on the [overland] Tube or Google when walking down the street.

That is why the news this week that London Underground had cancelled its plan to roll-out mobile signal on the Underground caused many to cry with disappointment. Yet if we actually consider the practicality of using a mobile on the Tube it’s hard to see why TFL and Boris feel there’s a need.

Yes, by 2012 when the world’s gaze will be on our humble island as we host the Olympics – we should therefore have the most technologically competent transport network in the world. The Tube is already a marvel (considering its age) and TFLs continued investment shows that it’s crucial to the capital’s economy.

Smartphone Hell

But those who argue that not having network signal on the Tube results in “lost business” are wrong. The majority of Underground journeys are short. A substantial amount of the network is overground anyway – so anyone travelling from Greater London outskirts is ‘out-of-contact’ for only on average, half their journey.

So what are the practical reasons for having mobile phones on the Tube? Running late – you can inform the person you’re meeting that you’ve been held up. Then again, we’ve coped up until now fine.

The biggest concern is peace and quiet. Despite the cramped conditions, the heat, the general rubbish nature of the Tube’s reliability, the Underground is a bastion of peace and quiet. Everyone keeps to themselves, preparing themselves for whatever awaits them. We cope by reading a book, doing some work, listening to music or simply losing ourselves in our thoughts.

The Underground itself isn’t quiet. The rushing of the train through the tunnels is often deafening. Can you imagine someone shouting down a phone to overcome the noise? Now picture someone else next to them doing the same, having to make themselves even louder. It’s a nightmare waiting to happen.

That alone is why we don’t need phones on the Tube. It’s also the fact that you can finally relax, knowing that you’re out of reach, buried beneath London. That my friends, is priceless.



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