London: “Tube Chat” Badges: My thoughts

When I saw the Evening Standard’s article  today that people  are handing out unofficial Transport for London ‘Tube Chat’ badges to encourage people on the Underground to actually talk to each other, I thought it was an excellent idea. An American called Jonathan Dunne started it.  It has been something I have been thinking about for a while.

Many people in London are quite fun, but when they enter the tube, they suddenly become ‘all serious and boring’. I think it is such an old fashioned, conservative attitude. It does not reflect diversity too. Not all of us are stuffed shirts.

I really hate the sour atmosphere on the tube. It smacks of a time in the 1950s. London is a young, vibrant place  now, why are  Londoners still behaving in weird stuffy way? It is ridiculously outdated.However, yes, in  the rush hour in the morning is a lot harder to talk for a variety of reasons.

I use the bus a lot and people talk to each other so using the tube a big contrast for me.  There is nothing to look at other than all the ‘stone cold’  commuters and corporate adverts, and poor old tourists, on holiday, are thrown in with them. People look like they are miserable every day, even on good days. I think the seating arrangements don’t actually help.

For those of us who are into ‘micro adventures’ which are great, a light chat passes the time. You will never know what will happen.In my own case, I have met some very loyal friends on public transport and I have chatted to people about loom knitting, bull dogs, long distance bike rides and even went on some trips round Australia with them.  New people, new opportunities maybe, who knows? Life is is an adventure, and it can open new horizons. Coming from a tourism background, I can help with a wealth of information. Why have such a narrow life? I suppose  as  a world traveller, I am a little more open-minded than some Londoners. I have also had a few laughs with passing passengers on public transport as well.

I won’t use the badge during the  morning rush hour as I need that time to think, like many others, but outside these times, perhaps  when out sightseeing and not being in such a rush, I have a little more mental capacity for people. I wouldn’t use the badge after 11pm to avoid the drunk men or if there are football fans.  It is good in that you have a choice   with a badge, and you can do it with friends too.

I think it would be good if the badges were made so you could talk to women or men only, or both women or men.   I would probably feel a bit uncomfortable chatting to men on my own on the tube. If I had a ‘women only’ badge I may feel a bit safer, after all,  sexual harassment is a big problem on a crowded tube but then I suppose, I wouldn’t want a chat on a crowded tube, I mean, I can barely breathe anyway.

London can be a lonely place for visitors and newcomers, and I think this idea would help change the way Londoners are and tube journeys, outside rush hour, would be less dull. Not all Londoners want a dull journey. When I worked in the travel industry, tourists would often say how unfriendly we were. Tourists are our bread and butter, we need to encourage them to come here and spend money.

Some older people may not have spoken to anyone all day, and that goes for some of us younger people who live alone, or even alone in relationships. Many of us are away from our family too, who may live at the end of the country.

We need a happier society and a REVOLUTION on the tube!

Well done to those who want to make change.  Shame on those who want the tube to be grouchy and miserable all the time. Why can’t that lot go to the back of the carriage,  with their Candy Crush games and leave us on the other carriages, where we can chat and share wine gums?

One person tweeted this:

It’s ok, Londoners, you can get through this. We do this all the time in the North.

For more info:

Evening Standard article:


Twitter: @tube_chat 

Jonathan Dunne speaks to Newsbeat about his idea:


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