On Thursday London, England’s underground train system was in the midst of what could possibly be the largest strike in over a decade forcing millions of Londoners to find alternative ways to travel.
London commuters either chose to pack on to buses or walk to work as the Tube services were scheduled to be shut down until Friday morning. Mike Brown, boss of London’s Underground, threatened that this strike was a result of a disagreement over work hours and would cause a huge interruption and said this strike was "totally unnecessary."
Approximately 4 million trips are taken each day on the Underground and so if the system is down, the city of London comes to a screeching halt. The Underground system is most commonly known as the Tube and without it, commuters and tourists are required to get to their destinations another way, by train, bus, taxi or foot.
In a video posted on Instagram Wednesday night, commuters could be seen climbing over walls in an attempt to catch the last train home out of the Oxford Circus station. For the commuters who preferred to walk, Britain’s Independent newspaper shared via twitter a picture of a map displaying the walking times between the different stations.
The majority of subway trains were filled to capacity with commuters who left early in order to avoid the strike.
The entity that manages public transit throughout London, Transport for London, stated that anticipating this strike, extra buses and services from river boats have been enlisted. As of Thursday morning the road systems and all other services were crowded, with long lines for the well-known red buses.
London Mayor Boris Johnson stated on Wednesday that residents of London were "understandably furious" over this strike. “The thing is ridiculous, and it is not a well-founded strike," he said, with hope that "common sense will prevail."
The action to strike was initiated when the London Underground and unions were unable to come to an agreement on a pay deal concerning the new “Night Tube” service scheduled to begin in September.
Starting on September 12th, with the launch of the Night Tube, round-the-clock services will be available on portions of the networks on Fridays and Saturdays, which means that it will be easier for both shift workers and late night travelers to get home.
The unions state that the London Underground has not done enough to address the members’ concerns regarding various issues such as working conditions, pay, safety and health and promised job cuts.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association, just one of four unions participating in the strike negotiations, blames "intransigence" for a portion of the London Underground strike, regardless of months of negotiations.
"We work to keep London moving day in, day out. We're already often at work before 5 a.m. or can be found helping passengers get home safely in the early hours. We cope with an ever-increasing numbers of passengers -- 100 million more in just the last five years -- and are happy to do so," according to a statement found on the TSSA website.
"We don't object to working these hours, or the even longer ones due to the Night Tube. All we ask for is a sensible solution to the safety implications of the Night Tube, honest negotiations and a reasonable settlement on pay and hours."
Mayor Johnson recently stated the Night Tube was "something that millions of people have wanted for a long time" and workers for the Underground were offered "a very, very fair deal" in exchange.