Reported plans by Transport for London to axe 800 tube station staff, affecting around 12 ticket offices in Barnet borough among dozens across London, could be the broken pledge too far that causes so many people to end their support for Boris Johnson that he will fail to win re-election if he stands again as Mayor of London in two years' time, predicts Andrew Newby, Green Party candidate for Hendon.
In 2007 when previous mayor Ken Livingstone announced plans to shut the ticket offices at Totteridge and Whetstone, West Finchley and Mill Hill East stations among 40 proposed closures, tube travellers were so keen to make their objections known that they literally grabbed draft protest letters from the hands of Barnet Green Party campaigners who offered them to people emerging from the local stations.
"Some people told us awful stories of problems they had had when no staff member was around to help them - elderly people who had had to climb over barriers, mothers with children in pushchairs who had had to lift the chairs over stubbornly closed barriers before climbing over themselves, and so on," Newby said.
Wily Ken backed off from his idea and so will Boris if he has any sense. Despite the impression given by the vociferous road lobby that most people rely on cars, in fact around 80 percent of people who work in central London commute by public transport every day and they deserve improved tube, train and bus services, not reduced.
The objections to reduced ticket office opening hours are as strong now as they were then - greater risk to everyone, delays to journeys, loss of revenue. Worst of all, the heightened feeling of insecurity when no staff are around might put some people off travelling by Underground altogether.