June 02, 2008

Down The Tubes

From BBC NEWS | England: Tube drinks party sparks mayhem

So, since I don't live in London anymore, I guess it kind of passed me by that newly elected London mayor Boris "Don't call me a tosser" Johnson was planning to ban drinking on the Underground. He announced the new law almost immediately after taking office, and it took effect yesterday.

Now, I've never had any problems with drunks on the Tube (other than a guy who threw up across the aisle from me, once), and I grew up in a place where public drinking is okay, and I'm certainly no Boris Johnson fan — but it seems to me that a well-conceived ban on drinking on public transport could probably have some benefits. (No one would have had to clean up that vomit, for a start.)

But instead, as I understand it, Johnson literally just said "no more drinking on the Tube" and that was that. No extra staff. No new training. Basically, the plan was that current Tube employees would be responsible for asking people to stop drinking, and everything would work out perfectly. Of course, a lot Tube employees are weak and pallid and a little rusty with the ol' social skills (because, to be fair, they spend the bulk of their days sitting by themselves in underground tunnels), and are pretty ill-equipped to deal with roving gangs of drunken louts. The Rail Maritime and Transport Union even pointed this out.

Johnson, though, would not be deterred, and the ban went ahead as scheduled.
Londoners celebrated the occasion, naturally, by throwing a massive binge-drinking session on the Underground. It was called "Last Orders" and was meant to give public boozing a fitting send-off. Says the Beeb:
Six London Underground stations were closed as trouble flared when thousands of people marked the banning of alcohol on London transport with a party.

Four tube drivers, three other staff members, and two police officers were assaulted, and there were 17 arrests.

Several trains were damaged and withdrawn from service, which led to suspended services.
Fitting, indeed.

Now, conservative policy wonks will no doubt (and have, in fact, already) pointed to the drunken blowout as evidence of precisely why a ban on drinking is needed, but hopefully they won't get away with it. Mass orgies on the Circle line are a far cry from the isolated groups of drunken yobs that normally patronise the Tube, and I'm amazed, frankly, that it didn't turn out even worse. But instead of going in prepared and nipping things in the bud before they got really bad, the authorities were left with this debacle — a nice legacy, I'm sure, for all those Tube drivers who are going to have to start asking people not to drink in the coming weeks.

Anyway, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: boo on poor planned public policies!

Maybe I should run for mayor.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Or maybe you should just write for The Daily Show. They seem to be stealing all of your jokes; perhaps they should start paying you for them

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