For which I am deeply grateful.
But, the reason given by TfL never seems to make much sense to me.
Frankly, it costs too much is the usual explanation. All those signs and maps need to be changed. Hideously expensive. Go away. Shooo!
The report estimates that the income from sponsorships would somewhere in the region of £136-204 million — presumably for 20-year deals at various key locations comparable to that signed by the Arabfly Dangleway.
As we have seen with the Dangleway, sponsorship is not technically impossible, if somewhat easier to arrange for a new service as opposed to something that exists. It’s also not as if changing station names is alien to the underground network.
Any transport historian will have had times scratching their heads as stations seem to change names throughout the history of the transport network.
- Gillespie Road — Changed to Arsenal after a notable football club moved there
- Surrey Docks — Changed to Surrey Quays after a shopping centre bunged a wad of cash at it.
- Shepherds Bush — One of them became a Market.
- Charing Cross/Strand — All sorts of confusing name changes over the years.
…and the list goes on.
Now, I don’t expect the cost of rebranding a station to be cheap. Lots of signs at the stations need replacing. Tube maps need updating, tannoy announcements need rerecording.
But, the tube maps are updated every few months already — so that is routine. The in-train maps can easily, and often do, have little stickers put over stations when things change. The tannoys aren’t that expensive to rerecord.
Yes, the in-station signs, and maybe, at some locations — signs at other buildings would need changing.
But seriously, would it really be so exceptionally expensive to do that? Would it really cost so much that TfL couldn’t make a decent profit on the deal?
If a 3-month sponsorship deal at Oxford Circus was offered — as it reportedly was — for £10 million, would it really cost so much more than that to rebrand the station?
Personally, I suspect the real reason is that TfL is just not geared up to make swift changes to tube station signs. It took months for the Olympics signs to come down from the tube stations, and I bet there are still some around in places. Only last week I saw a poster advertising delights, from last Christmas.
Just how long would it have taken for TfL to take down the wine merchants signs after they stopped paying for them?
But, if TfL isn’t prepared for such efforts, maybe it should be? Having a team of “sticker fairies” who can descend on stations and make changes overnight wouldn’t be that bad a thing for the network as a whole. Even if the motivation is money as opposed to ensuring the use of consistent and up-to-date signage in public areas.
I don’t like the idea of sponsorships for the tube stations. Nope, not at all. But if TfL are going to reject the idea — I think they need to come up with a better argument than that it would cost too much.
As that really doesn’t make sense.