As students begin to trickle into College to register for the new session many are being surprised to find that ICU are no longer issuing London Transport Student Photocards. Students wishing to obtain the 30% discount on Tube, buss, tram and DLR travel, must pick up an application form from the Registry (and get them to stamp it and a photograph), which must then be sent in the post.
Live! has exclusively seen a copy of a letter from Justine Stephens (the University of London Union President) which is being sent to all UL college student union Presidents. Miss Stephens explains that the “self-issue” system has been withdrawn because Transport for London (TfL) have decided to print the Photocards with digital photographs via an external contractor. TfL claim that the new system will result in a 7 day turn-around for postal applications (rather than 21 days previously). For “practical reasons” student unions cannot issue the new digitally printed Photocards. TfL have also decided that self-issue was “not necessary” because the new system will be oh so quick and efficient.
The new application forms come with a forward from Mayor Livingstone. In it he says, “the waiting time … will generally be reduced from 21 to 7 days”. Amusingly he also cites the recent extension of the validity period when saying that he wants to “give you sufficient time at the start of the academic year to obtain or renew your Student Photocard without having to pay the full cost of fares”. With last year’s Photocards expiring on 30 September (before the start of the Imperial term) no-one in Union circles is expecting any IC students to escape paying full fares for at least the first few weeks of term. The price of the Photocards has also increased to pay for the new super-efficient digitally printed photographs. Each card will now cost £5.
The new arrangements have met with derision among ICU circles. The general feeling is that that ULU President has been “bungling” in her handling of the situation. Several senior ICU figures suggested that Miss Stephens had been a “sucker” by being too quick to believe the 7-day turnaround. TfL’s statement on the matter stated that they would “aim towards a 7-day turnaround”. It is understood that the na?ve Miss Stephens thought this meant a guarantee. So far several Imperial students have been waiting over 3 weeks for their applications to be returned. One observer commented that Miss Stephens did not do very much in TfL meetings other than “sit there, looking very ginger”. Criticism was also reserved for TfL, who one senior ICU figure described as “bastards”.