Friday, August 10, 2007

Clearing my Desk

Just for summer, so don't anyone get too excited...

In one of the drawers I unearthed a plastic pass card with my picture on it. Unremarkable, until I realised that it had been issued on a visit to the World Trade Centre, dated 2 February 2001. Some members were visiting New York to see what Bob Kiley had done for their subway system - little did we know how the world would change in just a few months. Some quotes from New Yorkers we met have remained with me:

When I heard there were English people here, I just had to drop by to thank you for the way you have always stood by our country in difficult times - a senior official at the World Trade Centre made this prophetic comment.

Not every fare evader is a criminal, but every criminal is a fare evader -The subway police chief talks about their policy of following up the police files of ticket dodgers.

Giuliani only gets elected because the white European immigrants support him - One of many democrats we met who complained about the mayor being right wing, and popular.

There was this stretch of road in Queens where we had a lot of pedestrians being run over, so we deployed our police and prosecuted people for jay walking - One of the Mayor's transport advisors explained their approach to road safety.

We really loved your Margaret Thatcher - A senior representative of the subway workers union, clearly out of step with our own RMT.

And best of all, when we got back home:

He's made a much better job of your Tube than he did of ours - A New York tourist visiting London (Kiley was due to take up his post as London Transport Commissioner several months later)

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