Peter Hendy is often mistaken, usually by the right, for some proto-Communist chum of Ken Livingstone, overpaid bureaucratic fat-cat or whatever fantasy Gilligan has dreamt up that week  – “…the absolutely classic definition of a transport bureaucrat who got lucky”, if memory serves.  However, a new string to his bow has emerged – ‘Person who stands up for London’s transport users when Nero Johnson wants to pretend everything’s all Sir Garnet’.

I refer of course to the Oyster Extension Permit idiocy – the Kafkaesque invention of the Train Operating Companies that requires you to have something you sometimes can’t get before you get on a train with an otherwise valid ticket on pain of possibly being fined, or possibly not.  Hendy’s broadside, in the Board Papers for this month’s meeting, has gone further than anyone from TfL or the Mayor’s Office in spelling out precisely what London’s democratic institutions think of this particular stupidity:

Oyster pay as you go was successfully extended to all National Rail stations in London, as well as on four C2C stations in Essex on 2 January. An additional 0.5 million journeys have been made using Oyster Pay as You Go every week on the National Rail network since 2 January.

TfL is working closely with the TOCs to monitor and resolve station specific issues. I have concerns about the lack of TOC staff knowledge on the Oyster Extension Permit, which is not applicable on the TfL network, and which is not supported by TfL.

Later on he has another crack:

The main policy area of the rollout that still remains an issue is the Oyster Extension Permit, required by the TOCs, and not by TfL. Oyster Extension Permits are required on National Rail services in London, where a customer with a Travelcard plans to travel outside the zones that they have purchased, using Oyster PAYG. I have written to the TOCs and to the Association Operating Companies to ask them to rethink this impediment to travel.

Pretty clear: TfL does not back the OEP (even though most of the places that supply it are TfL-run) and the head man is directly saying that the TOCs (who insisted on OEP as a condition) are not taking it seriously enough to train their staff properly.  This is a pissed off Commissioner, by my reckoning, and it’s noticeable that there’s no mention of any Mayoral pressure being brought (other areas, such as Southeastern, he’s gone as far as to write to Lord Adonis, who must have a substantial file of Boris bleatings by now).  Which brings us to the long-delayed Rail Summit:

A date for the Mayor’s TOC summit has now been agreed.  All London TOCs will be invited to attend the meeting on 12 February. The agenda is currently under discussion with ATOC.

So there’s still no agenda and no confirmed list of invitees.  Chop chop!  It’s only been 18 months!

Update – it appears that Boris didn’t get the memo.  A recent Mayoral Answer states:

Oyster Extension Permits are a requirement of the Train Companies for Oyster travel on their services. They are never needed for TfL travel.

Nonetheless, TfL has arranged for Oyster Extension Permits to be available at all Oyster Ticket Stops, and at all TfL operated rail stations, including the Overground (both from the ticket office and the self-service machines).

Most but not all Train Companies are arranging for Extension Permits to be available from their Ticket Vending Machines. Please see my answer to MQ98 / 2010.

Meanwhile, TfL continues to press the Train Companies to provide a comprehensive Oyster retailing service from their ticket offices, including the sale of cards and Extension Permits.

So TfL are pressing for the TOCs to make OEPs available from ticket offices while TfL is pressing for the TOCs to abolish OEP entirely because it’s an impediment to travel.  Hello?  Anyone in there doing the thinking?

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