After being made aware last November of the apparent Transport for London initiative to remove advertising from the Tube, we were disappointed not to have seen any further action since then. However, another surprise encounter with the team carrying out these improvements has now been reported!

As shown in the photographs taken by our lucky witnesses, the District Line appears to be the line being used to pilot this initiative. As passengers went about their daily travelling business, a team of obviously highly trained professionals entered the carriages one by one, taking adverts out of the holders, flipping them over and replacing them, putting an information sticker on the flipped adverts:

The teams also took time out from their work to ask some of the passengers about their views on Tube advertisements. Some were sadly indifferent, others actually liked the advertising as it "gave them something to read" and were even a little confrontational as they were faced with a advert free carriage, though this particular passenger did appear to be on their way back from the Ideal Home Show.

Many passengers were positive and supportive, agreeing that it was "Nice to not be being sold anything," and even suggesting putting some original artwork and poetry in place of the advertisements. Indeed it seemed that the team were under strict instructions not to remove any of the poems, simply replacing the advertising.

One of the team explained:
“TFL’s research team has been analysing the effects of environmental conditions on the London Underground, as part of an efficiency drive to reduce tube train suicides and passenger complaints. Extensive psychological research has shown that in the majority of cases, the presence of constant advertising intensifies feelings of anxiety, failure and compulsion. This is especially true within the tube carriage, as the high proportion of adverts for car and life insurance, escapist holidays and plastic surgery exacerbates fearfulness, aspiration and inadequacy in the psyches of the LU customers. It was found that the poems and the maps produced no such ill effects, and they are to remain displayed throughout this initiative.”

A few also questioned whether the team were actually affiliated with TfL, something which we are also quite curious about.
We can only hope that this excellent initiative continues!

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