More WiFi, contactless payments and iPad-wielding staff are all coming to the London Underground as part of Transport for London's (TfL) future Tube upgrade plan, as the metro system also promised to bring in 24-hour weekend services from 2015.
According to TfL's plans, all but four sub-surface Tube stations will receive WiFi coverage by the end of 2014. Currently, 120 of its stations have free WiFi access.
With the expanded internet access, TfL will provide its ticket hall and platform staff with mobile devices through which they can direct passengers using interactive Tube maps. TfL promotional material (below) shows a member of staff using an iPad to help a passenger find their way.
On top of this, staff will have access to live service updates to predict the arrival times of underground services.
However, every London Underground ticket hall is set to lose its manned ticket sales points, meaning all ticket sales and Oyster Card top-ups will take place at automated machines. Ticket barriers will support contactless card payments from 2014, in line with previous TfL announcements.
The removal of manned ticket kiosks will result in the loss of 750 positions, but TfL has promised no compulsory redundancies. Nonetheless, the RMT union is considering a pre-Christmas Tube strike in protest.
Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said: "To meet the challenge of London's growing population and development, we must continue to invest and deliver even more efficiently in future.
"Our vision is for a Tube network and service that is truly fit for London and our customers in the 21st century – a better face-to-face service at our stations, a 24-hour service at weekends, with easier and more personalised ways to plan and pay for journeys, on and off our network."
So far contactless payments on London's bus services have proved popular, with over £3.5m in payments taken since its introduction, as the face of London transport continues to modernise in line with new technology.
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