21 TfL bus announcements that would improve Londoners lives more than ‘Hold on, the bus is about to move’

A London bus, inadvertently annoying everyone on board, yesterday.

Poor old Transport for London: they just wanted to suggest to people that it is safer to hold on when the bus is about to move away from the stop, and now every Londoner with an internet connection is using it to yell at them.

Not only is the new safety announcement, currently to be heard on all London buses, slightly patronising for anyone who has, say, used any form of wheeled transportation before, but it suffers from a technical fault. Passengers are treated to a rendition of “Please hold on, the bus is about to move” repeatedly throughout their journey, regardless of whether the bus is actually about to move or not.

If TfL really think buses need yet another announcement to break up the monotony of a bus journey, here are few bits of advice we think some people could really do with an occasional reminder about:

1) “Passengers sat on the aisle next to an empty seat in an attempt to claim as much personal space as possible are invited to get off the bus and hail a taxi instead.”

2) “Passengers sat on the aisle next to an empty seat across from a friend who has done the same are invited to get off the bus and jump into the nearest canal.”

3) “Passengers are reminded that sitting next to the only person on an otherwise empty bus is weird and creepy.”

4) “Unless they’re sitting at the front, which is fair game, let’s be honest.”

5) “If you just heard a ‘ding’, someone has pressed the stop button. Pressing it again won’t somehow cause the bus to stop more.”

6) “Seriously, would it help if we told you the bus explodes if it goes ‘ding’ more than three times in a minute?”

7) “There are seats available on the upper deck of this bus. Go up there and sit down so the bus won’t sail past the poor gits standing at the next stop in the pissing rain, you utter bastards.”

8) “Sorry chaps, if your willy is so big you need to spread your legs across two seats, it has to have a valid Oyster card.”

9) “Stop trying to make eye contact with strangers. This is LONDON.”

10) “Oh my god seriously leave that person alone they don't want to talk to you they just want to get home and cook sausages.”

In heaven, everything is fine. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Matty.

11) “Tourists: getting on the bus solely to ask the driver to explain how to get to Big Ben while everyone else is late for work will often offend. Especially at a bus stop in Parliament Square.”

12) “Anyone eating anything more substantial than a Twix is required to offer all the other passengers a bit first.”

13) Anyone drinking alcohol is reminded that not only is it now illegal, but it will make anyone who isn't extremely jealous.

14) “If you were listening to your piss-awful music through headphones instead of that crappy phone speaker you probably wouldn’t even be able to hear this annoying announcement.”

15) “Don’t stand on the stairs getting in the way, or if you do at least have the decency to fall down them so we can all have a good laugh.”


16) “Passengers considering having a loud and lengthy phone conversation should first rectally insert their handsets.”

17) “You. Yes, you. Everyone knows it was you that held up the bus fumbling around in your bag for your Oyster card and now wants you to die.”

18) “Chin up everyone, there is always at least a very slight chance that everything will be okay.”

19) “We apologise for the delay. It’s mainly down to all these dicks who think driving a car through central London is a good idea.”

20) “Please, can you all just stop being dicks, all the time.”

21) “Could the red-faced weirdo please stop getting so uptight about what other people do on the bus, you’ll do yourself an injury mate.”

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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High streets and shopping malls face a ‘domino effect’ from major store closures

Another one bites the dust: House of Fraser plans to close the majority of its stores. Image: Getty.

Traditional retail is in the centre of a storm – and British department store chain House of Fraser is the latest to succumb to the tempest. The company plans to close 31 of its 59 shops – including its flagship store in Oxford Street, London – by the beginning of 2019. The closures come as part of a company voluntary arrangement, which is an insolvency deal designed to keep the chain running while it renegotiates terms with landlords. The deal will be voted on by creditors within the month.

Meanwhile in the US, the world’s largest retail market, Sears has just announced that it will be closing more than 70 of its stores in the near future.

This trend of major retailers closing multiple outlets exists in several Western countries – and its magnitude seems to be unrelated to the fundamentals of the economy. The US, for example, has recently experienced a clear decoupling of store closures from overall economic growth. While the US economy grew a healthy 2.3 per cent in 2017, the year ended with a record number of store closings, nearly 9,000 while 50 major chains filed for bankruptcy.

Most analysts and industry experts agree that this is largely due to the growth of e-commerce – and this is not expected to diminish anytime soon. A further 12,000 stores are expected to close in the US before the end of 2018. Similar trends are being seen in markets such as the UK and Canada.

Pushing down profits

Perhaps the most obvious impact of store closures is on the revenues and profitability of established brick-and-mortar retailers, with bankruptcies in the US up by nearly a third in 2017. The cost to investors in the retail sector has been severe – stocks of firms such as Sears have lost upwards of 90 per cent of their market value in the last ten years. By contrast, Amazon’s stock price is up over 2,000 per cent in the same period – more than 49,000 per cent when considering the last 20 years. This is a trend that the market does not expect to change, as the ratio of price to earnings for Amazon stands at ten times that of the best brick-and-mortar retailers.

Although unemployment levels reached a 17-year low in 2017, the retail sector in the US shed a net 66,500 jobs. Landlords are losing longstanding tenants. The expectation is that roughly 25 per cent of shopping malls in the US are at high risk of closing one of their anchor tenants such as a Macy’s, which could set off a series of store closures and challenge the very viability of the mall. One out of every five malls is expected to close by 2022 – a prospect which has put downward pressure on retail real estate prices and on the finances of the firms that own and manage these venues.

In the UK, high streets are struggling through similar issues. And given that high streets have historically been the heart of any UK town or city, there appears to be a fundamental need for businesses and local councils to adapt to the radical changes affecting the retail sector to preserve their high streets’ vitality and financial viability.


The costs to society

While attention is focused on the direct impacts on company finances, employment and landlord rents, store closures can set off a “domino effect” on local governments and businesses, which come at a significant cost to society. For instance, closures can have a knock-on effect for nearby businesses – when large stores close, the foot traffic to neighbouring establishments is also reduced, which endangers the viability of other local businesses. For instance, Starbucks has recently announced plans to close all its 379 Teavana stores. Primarily located inside shopping malls, they have harshly suffered from declining mall traffic in recent years.

Store closures can also spell trouble for local authorities. When retailers and neighbouring businesses close, they reduce the taxable revenue base that many municipalities depend on in order to fund local services. Add to this the reduction in property taxes stemming from bankrupt landlords and the effect on municipal funding can be substantial. Unfortunately, until e-commerce tax laws are adapted, municipalities will continue to face financial challenges as more and more stores close.

It’s not just local councils, but local development which suffers when stores close. For decades, many cities in the US and the UK, for exmaple Detroit and Liverpool, have heavily invested in efforts to rejuvenate their urban cores after years of decay in the 1970s and 1980s. Bringing shops, bars and other businesses back to once derelict areas has been key to this redevelopment. But today, with businesses closing, cities could once again face the prospect of seeing their efforts unravel as their key urban areas become less attractive and populations move elsewhere.

Commercial ecosystems featuring everything from large chain stores to small independent businesses are fragile and sensitive to change. When a store closes it doesn’t just affect employees or shareholders – it can have widespread and lasting impacts on the local community, and beyond. Controlling this “domino effect” is going to be a major challenge for local governments and businesses for years to come.

Omar Toulan, Professor in Strategy and International Management, IMD Business School and Niccolò Pisani, Assistant Professor of International Management, University of Amsterdam.

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.