Graham Vincent

Member Article

Conservative idea for Tube sponsorship criticized

A Tory idea that would see a ticket price freeze through sponsorship of the London Underground has been branded a bad idea by a top professor.

According to a new report published by the Conservatives, it is estimated that up to £136m a year could be raised through sponsorship of the network lines and stations, sufficient to freeze fares for a full year.

The report also targets a more ambitious £204m over three years, allowing fare rises to be capped at inflation-level.

Despite the report - Untapped Resource: Bearing Down on Fares Through Sponsorship - asserting that 82% of Londoners would back such a move, Vince Mitchell, Professor of Consumer Marketing at Cass Business School, views the idea negatively.

He said: “The tube, its lines and its stations are iconic, with a long history, making it part of the UK’s cultural heritage. Tampering with its names would not only remove the nostalgic connection, but also the comforting familiarity.”

“My main problem with this idea is where it might lead to; changing street names and areas to reduce council tax? Renaming lakes to reduce water rates? Sponsored hospitals to reduce our health costs? There is an economic argument for all of these, but would it turn the UK into one big trade fair? Great for companies maybe, but not great for tourism.”

Professor Mitchell continued: “As a concession to the idea, I can see how new tube lines, which have no history, might be put on the open market for sponsorship to reflect London’s reputation as a place of progressive commerce as well as ancient history.”

Report author Gareth Bacon said: “TfL is well behind the curve on this one. We have the potential to command tens, if not hundreds of millions of pounds through sponsorship deals on stations, lines, trains and bus routes.

“Sponsorship is already used on metro systems across the word in places like Madrid, Dubai and New York. TfL must follow in these footsteps if London’s transport network is to remain as one of the best too.”

A TFL spokesperson ruled out the idea however, observing that the cost of switching maps and signs made a deal of that nature unfeasible.

TfL’s director of commercial development, Graeme Craig, said: “The mayor has in the past ruled out the renaming of stations, largely due to the cost of changing the thousands of signs and maps across the network.

“We already do deals short of actually renaming stations or lines, including giving over whole stations like Canary Wharf to advertising by one organisation.”

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Graham Vincent .

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