John Bull Profile picture
24 Mar, 19 tweets, 4 min read
Not surprised by this.

TfL did a whoooooooole bunch of research on this a while back.

Short version: people have a hierarchy of transport needs.

The curve of price as an incentive drops off MASSIVELY once you hit "affordable". Then the big wins are frequency/cleanliness/safety
The sweet-spot is thus as cheap as you can make it to keep frequency, cleanliness and investments in stations high.

Not that they can do any of that of course, because COVID and government grandstanding.
The whole:

"Make it free. They will come" has always been just a different flavour of wishful thinking as "privatisation will make transport more efficient."

Both have never reflected actual reality. Just someone's vision of how they THINK reality should behave.
The real answer is that what works will vary by city and culture.

Frequency really is king though. It's the old Howard Smith, London Overground plan: If you make it "turn up and go" people stop seeing trains as offering less freedom as cars for near-equivalent journeys.
As long as they have to think about a timetable (or think they do) then a train journey is something you plan, while the car is just something you get into and drive.

Get under 13min gaps was his baseline. Ideally less. You want single figures on the platform countdown clock.
And you damn well need countdown clocks. If people have to look at a big board with actual train times on it, you're fucked.

Again, it's then a planned journey. A list of times they think they have to remember. Not a spur of the moment decision.
Basically, if you read between the lines on ALL the research for this, then it ALWAYS boils back to people being:

1) utterly fucking awful at correctly calculating resource/time cost
2) sunk cost investment in cars
3) perception of luxury/making it = car
You essentially have to accept that you just CAN'T engineer significant modal shift among 'bedded in' transport users. They've invested in their status quo and (mostly) like it. You might as well try and get them to switch banks. Ain't gonna happen.
What you CAN do though is lock in:

1) New groups arriving in a local area (which includes those incentivised by the transport access it now offers)
2) Lock in the KIDS of the people who are happy with their cars.

Generational/immigrational shift, basically.
So what you have to do is optimise the attractiveness of your public transport offering around THAT, and then watch for 'act of god' moments that force the previously locked in car users to have to temporarily shift to public transport instead.

Then you encourage them to stay.
This is also why COVID fallout will hit passenger growth numbers in the short term (I suspect) but not the long term in London.

It's going to push a few existing users into drifting into the 'sunk cost' car group now, combined with more long term home working.
The counters from this, from TfL will need to be:

1) Making absolutely fucking SURE kids still get free travel. You can't lose the teens.
2) Part-time travelcards. Not just PAYG. You need a specific perceived-value offering for those still trekking to Canary Wharf thrice a week.
Yeah. It's best to think of the ZIP 16+ as the equivalent of banks offering students an account with a free overdraft that scales each academic year.

Both are about customer lock in, during the age when humans are most amenable to being locked in.
Exactly! Both know modal transport shift is about social engineering, as much as physical engineering.

Buses have a weird inverse problem: People see buses as impermanent. Even if they're more frequent than rail. Tracks flip a permanence switch in brains.
As I've mentioned before, this is why Uber's FIRST big fuck up was exploding road usage in London.

In doing so they decreased reliability on the bus network (through lower road speeds) at the EXACT time TfL were trying to persuade people to shift ONTO buses.
It's also why, weirdly, if you're trying to build a transport network in a city or town FROM SCRATCH (hello America) you're weirdly better off trying for light rail at lower frequency and coverage than buses FIRST.

That triggers the brain switch on public transport. Buses don't.
Because you have to remember that for your first line, your goal is to get people to THINK about things as 'lines'. As permanent things they can rely on for 40 years.

Not a vehicle. They own vehicles. They trade them in every 5 years. They think your bus will disappear then too.
Now that feels counter-intuitive and it also then feels like you're not maximising your investment or ability to benefit every resident or socio-economic group.

But you have to find the balance between that, and in beginning a cultural shift that makes public transport permanent
Christ. This is what happens after a year of lockdown with no @lonrec monthly drinks. Suddenly I start explaining this stuff to American transport campaigners for free, rather than them having to visit London and bribe me with beer.

Bloody pandemic. 😆

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More from @garius

23 Mar
Factual answer: We're changing nuclear warheads to a more modern one.

So it's a temporary increase in warheads during changeover. You can't decommission at the same time as you install.

Whether we should have ANY is a fair debate. But that's the reason.
Indeed I think the debate on whether we should have any nukes is an important one to constantly have.

Personally, I still land (just about) on 'necessary evil'. Mostly because once you LOSE the capacity, it's nigh-on impossible financially to get it back.
I hope that we can build a better world where the NEXT generation can, when faced with this same decision, confidently and definitely reject nuclear weapons and the horror they represent forever.

That has to be our goal, at home and how we assert British soft power abroad.
Read 20 tweets
22 Mar
Using one of my fave quotes in a Quiet Leadership talk tomorrow.

"I was called at 0500 & not before which meant that nothing bad had happened or I should have been called."

Admiral Ramsay's diary. 6th June 1944.

The dude knew when to step back and let his peeps do their shit.
Ramsey's planned the D-Day landings. He knows everything is in place and ready to go. He knows once the signal is given, he can't influence it.

It either works or it doesn't.

He's built a team round him that he trusts and knows will come to him if they need him.

So he's just:
And when he DOES get up, he has the confidence of knowing his people will have been doing what they need to do, and can then just focus on the things they bring to him.
Read 5 tweets
17 Mar
A quick morning follow up thread on this, now I can see which why the big paper stories are going.

Let's revisit the subject of narrative, why controlling it is important to Uber, and I'll explain how they exploit the lack of continuity in UK newsrooms. /1
Controlling the narrative is important to Uber because, as I've talked about before, they're an investment package first and a provider of services second.

To be snarky, the services don't pay the bills (they make a loss). Fresh investment is a continual need.
For investors to invest, Uber needs to at least be able to claim that:

1) They are meeting minimum legal obligations
2) They have a path to profitability.

I won't go into why 2) is dodgy. Short version: transport doesn't scale like tech. See thread:
Read 14 tweets
16 Mar
Before everyone starts getting excited:

1) Uber didn't reclassify its drivers as workers, the COURTS did. Uber is just doing the paperwork
2) Drivers already earn more than the minimum wage
3) They're still refusing to count idle time as work

So what's it mean? /1
Well first up, a reminder that if you've not read my previous Uber stuff over the years, and how they tech-broed themselves into an unnecessary (but hilarious) encounter with the Duck Test in UK law, then start here:

Now you're caught up, what does this announcement mean?

Well... nothing really. Nothing new anyway. They're doing what they had to do. If they hadn't made these changes promptly they'd have lost their operator licenses.

Uber are just very good at writing press releases.
Read 12 tweets
15 Mar
UPDATE: Got to the surgery in the pissing hail, only to be told this is, in fact, a TELEPHONE appointment.

This is information not included on the text message in any way.

Not that I've had a phone call yet.
I'm fully expecting now not to get one, and then to be told that they rang my landline - the number of which even I don't know. Despite them being aware I was standing outside the surgery at 11:05am and do not own a warp drive.

And, obviously, sending me the text on my mobile.
Thing is, if they DON'T call now I'm not just going to be super annoyed at how much this has fucked up my day, but also massively disappointed.

I've turned my phone off silent for this now so I don't miss it.

After 3yrs I'm excited to find out what my phone actually sounds like
Read 8 tweets
15 Mar
Agreed. To be slightly facetious, something you quickly realise if you study WW2 beyond the 'Channel 5 documentary' level is that Churchill largely saved the nation by not being Lord Halifax, and then being a stubborn git when required.

Both skills, but not that interesting.
The REALLY fun history is the social, logistics, codebreaking, tactical, politics etc stuff that went on AROUND him. And the people involved in doing all that.

Although Churchill's interactions with Roosevelt are pretty fascinating and important. That's true enough.
But the obsession with the myth gets in the way of exploring the darker consequences of his mindset, approach and biases (both personal and 'of his time').

And that's what leads to Ladybird Book Churchill being an icon for people like Johnson, and them learning the wrong lessons
Read 4 tweets

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