Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Commuters of the World Unite!

The student protests against Tuition Fee rises have thrown the, somewhat anodynne, response of commuters to equally avaricious pricing by the train operators, into stark relief. Again and again we have seen inflation-busting price rises, all in the name of "investment" in our railways, and year after year the cynical, world-weary commuter just accepts it with a shrug of the shoulders and a roll of the eyes.

Throwing fire extinguishers, trashing shops or, God forbid, threatening a sixty-something adultress in a posh car with a stick, isn't really something one envisages the bankers and accountants of the 0711 from Cambridge partaking in. But given how (in)effective the standard commuter tactics of joining online gropus, leaving snide comments on Facebook and, occasionally, writing to The Guardian, have shown themselves to be, perhaps it is time to take to the streets for a proper demo.

If you think about it, we would be ideal demonstrators. Commuters have shown themselves to be single-minded ("Double-seat, double-seat", to quote Ben Elton), polite in an icy, skin-deep kind of way, and hardy. The contmptuous hard stare we have perfected for deployment against the passenger who plays his Ipod too loud would surely reduce any politician to tears. And as for the dreaded "kettling" - well, being trapped for hours in a confined space lacking sanitation or personal space . . . you can see where I'm going with this, right?

Of course, it will never happen. The chances of getting hundreds of commuters in the same place at the same time would be a logistical challenge to give Napolean a headache. And of course half the trains would be delayed. Right, I'm off to leave a snide comment on Facebook. That will show the buggers.

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