As a new design head takes over design management at London Transport, news has emerged of organisational changes at LT that may result in the seven-strong design management team working for two politically opposed organisations.
Christopher Nell, LT head of design for environments, will take over the head of design position next week. This follows the departure of Jeremy Rewse-Davies, who retires tomorrow after ten years in the position.
But Nell could find himself working for two masters after the formation in April 2000 of the Greater London Authority, home to London’s first elected mayor.
At that point LT will become Transport for London. Publicly owned and accountable, and overseen by the GLA, TfL will be responsible for buses, river buses and a quarter of the Underground.
That quarter will include stations, ticketing and “front of house” operations, plus overall co-ordination. Tracks and trains will be placed in private hands.
Responsibility for Underground co-ordination will be handed over to the GLA, “as and when the PDP [the public/private partnership] process is complete,” says a Department of Transport spokesman. But responsibility for bus and river bus services will shift to the GLA as soon as it is operational, he confirms.
The delay caused by the PDP could mean a staggered handover of bus and Underground services, says Nell. This would result in a transport network where the Underground is run by the Department of Transport, and buses controlled by the GLA.
The DoT and a London mayor are likely to disagree over any number of policies as a result of differing political agendas, leaving the design department, and other service units, in a difficult position.