public telephone boxes (Supplementary) [3]

Session date: 
April 4, 2001
Question By: 
Lynne Featherstone
Liberal Democrats
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Obviously public telephones are important for public safety and access to emergency services, but they also play a really important role in ensuring that Londoners get home safely at night. I am sure you are aware that we have recently scrutinised this and other safety issues. People with mobile phones are fine when they reach their destination: they can just ring a taxi or something; but if there is no payphone available, you are limiting the possibility of people accessing either a taxi home or someone to come and pick them up.

First, do you recognise the importance of that access to public telephones as being part of this safe routes home philosophy; secondly, in order to ensure that they will have safe routes home, will you commit yourself to providing or helping to provide properly maintained public telephones at all bus stops, train stations and Tube stops?

Supplementary To: 


Answer for public telephone boxes (Supplementary) [3]

Answer for public telephone boxes (Supplementary) [3]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

There is the potential to do this. The contract with Adshel for the provision of bus stations, which was awarded in 1970 for 35 years, or in 1975 for 30 years, will expire in 2005. For such a major contract, the negotiations will no doubt start over the next 18 months or so. We have got so used to Adshel being the overwhelming provider, but there is another firm in the frame.

On a visit to open their headquarters, I saw a very impressive bus shelter with an integral phone and integral toilet. Given the problems that I know Meg Hillier and others have raised of people being able to get to a toilet on bus runs, I think we should look very seriously at saying that we expect the new contract to lead to a dramatic improvement in the quality that is on offer. Therefore, we could aim to get a phone at the vast majority of bus stops.

Also, I believe that it is incumbent on London Underground, and also on the Railtrack stations in London, that they should ensure that telephones are available in their stations. I am not opposed to wiring up the Underground so that mobile phone usage is possible. Many people will be very annoyed sitting on the Underground with someone droning on, "I'm on the Underground now, Darling," but it will reassure women to know that they will be able to phone home and tell their partner, "I'll be at the station in about five minutes; can you pick me up?" That will be a real benefit that outweighs the inconvenience of the nerds who seem to think that a five-minute bulletin on where they are on the system is of public interest.

That was a very long "yes".