As the solid stuff begins to come into contact with the rotating air circulation device over the way in which Transport for London has been getting suspiciously close to driver and rider matching service Uber, the head of surface transport Leon Daniels, who was the subject of a critical assessment by this blog recently, has, by complete coincidence you understand, decided that he will leave TfL before the end of the year.
This, according to London’s Transport Commissioner Mike Brown, was not a surprise, claiming “Leon had intended to retire in 2015 but agreed to stay on after my appointment as commissioner”. That matters are coming to a head over Uber’s licence renewal, along with the revelation that TfL have licensed hundreds of their drivers who have no intention of ever working in London, I’m sure never crossed anyone’s mind.
Nor does Brown seem to realise that his gushing tribute to Daniels will generate involuntary laughter and snorts of contempt in equal measure. This kicks off with “He has made a very significant contribution to TfL and London, and has done this critical job for longer than any of his predecessors”. He no doubt ranks as high as any in Rome.
Try again. “Our progress under his leadership has been considerable”. Like what? “This includes building a bus service that is the envy of all world cities, laying firm foundations for radical change in walking and cycling, and helping focus us on improving road safety and air quality to help secure our city's future”. That’s a straight f*** off right there.
London’s bus service is in crisis. In the central area, bus speeds are glacial, due partly to the inability of Bozza and TfL to keep the congestion charge level up, and partly to the huge numbers of additional private hire vehicles - mainly Uber cars - clogging up the streets as they womble around looking for a decent fare. And due to wasting money on 1,000 useless BozzaMasters, there is less money to improve bus services in areas where there is an urgent need to provide more capacity.
As to that “radical change in walking and cycling”, the cycling infrastructure has proved itself on all too many occasions to be little better than lethal, as was discovered with Bow Roundabout - more than two years after Daniels appeared at TfL. Proper improvements have only come very recently. As for walking, well, more people may be walking in central London - because the bus service is too sodding slow and the Tube is packed.
Then we come to air quality. Only after Sadiq Khan replaced Bozza as Mayor has any discernible progress been even attempted. Bozza infamously dismissed complaints about the capital’s lousy air quality by pretending it was “Alpine”. The reality is that, along major thoroughfares, there are times when you can taste the pollution. That’s not good enough.
And all of that is before we even get started on the shoddy treatment of London’s cabbies. Daniels was, last year, on a wedge of more than £350,000. Many of the capital’s black cab drivers make less than a tenth of that - an amount that is being squeezed by the behaviour of the outgoing TfL head of surface transport. He will not be missed.
Yes folks, there, leaving the mess for someone else to clean up, goes Leon Daniels. On his way … out.