Five of the most creative responses to commuter woes

7 min read

22 May 2015

A recent report from CommuteLondon counted nearly 480,000 tweets from frustrated commuters last year – so we pulled together the best ones.

In the time period between 1 April 2014 and 31 March 2015, 473,661 tweets were sent with negative language describing the train service passengers had experienced. Greater Anglia had the dubious honour of coming top with 72,861 negative tweets, followed by First Great Western, Southern Rail and South West Trains.

In terms of negative tweets actually directed to rail providers, the total was 1.78m – First Great Western took the brunt here with 265,201 messages. Virgin Trains, Greater Anglia and Southern Rail were also high on the list. Whoever’s in charge of the various rail providers’ social media accounts may well feel slightly relieved with the news that the planned Bank Holiday Network Rail strike is currently not going ahead.

An angry tweet may be a popular way of venting your anger these days, but it’s not the only option. Here are some of the most interesting ways people have demonstrated frustration on their commutes.

(1) A tattoo is generally quite a long-standing commitment, so most people tend to get ones of things they actually like. A 23-year-old PhD student from London, however, has had “F*** Southern” tattooed on his leg – inspired by his hatred for the south coast-based train company. 

Despite asking not to be named, he revealed that the commute from West Norwood to London Victoria caused him such turmoil he was driven to the extreme. “I think every Southern commuter should get one. It could be a f*** you to the company,” he said. Describing his journey, the student added: “The train is late daily. It’s overcrowded and too expensive. Southern is unwilling to reduce the cost of the tickets.” A familiar tale for most commuters, though it remains to be seen whether others will take to his cause.

(2) A less permanent solution to transport woes was taken by media creative Oli Beale. Every time his First Capital Connect train was late (which unsurprisingly, was quite often), Beale took to photoshopping FCC CEO Tim O’Toole’s face with an interesting feature, which he shared on the aptly-named Tim’s faces Tumblr

He has taken to adding the train details (often Hassocks to Farringdon and vice versa) with the time of the delay. So far, his creations have spanned bald heads to a dapper-looking suit featuring numerous faces, and an appearance from EastEnders character Pat Butcher.

His aim is to convince O’Toole that “little delays matter”. On his Tumblr, he added: “It’s an awful train line, Tim. It really is.” At least artistically defacing the source of his woes is offering some comfort – Beale told O’Toole he found “editing your face very cathartic”. O’Toole did respond and said it was “one of the most creative complaints that I’ve seen and an improvement on my photo”.

(3) Train delays and cancellations can bring out the worst in people – sometimes commuters are a bit OTT and intimidating in their fury. So, why not dress the part? This appeared to be the thinking of a scantily-clad Spartan army who took the Tube around London, much to the bemusement and entertainment of other passengers. It turned out to be a stunt to promote the release of American blockbuster 300: Rise of An Empire, but at least it temporarily brightened up a dreary trip of travelling for some.

Read on to find out what happens when TfL strikes back and how a duo took to ping pong to cheer up their fellow passengers’ day.

(4) In a reverse case of frustration, a commuter found himself on the receiving end of a dressing-down from someone manning the London Overground Twitter account last year. @dan_down voiced his irritation as the service was disrupted again – saying he risked losing 25 per cent of his salary because of the lateness caused by trains. The TfL London Overground account responded with some helpful advice, suggesting that Dan should perhaps look into setting off a bit earlier:

Unsurprisingly, commuters were not amused and TfL quickly backtracked on the message.

(5) It’s not all doom and gloom when waiting for trains though. Some take the free time to hone their skills in enviable pursuits – such as invisible ping pong. These two commuters took the opportunity to entertain onlookers with a fiercely competitive match while they waited for the underground.

And finally, a word of warning for those who can’t help but unleash their anger onto fellow commuters. In a tweet that went viral very speedily, Matt Buckland revealed a passenger set their frustrations onto the wrong person in February of this year. Buckland, head of talent at VC firm Forward Partners, was on a delayed, typically busy tube on a Monday morning, and tried to move aside to allow a passenger off the train when it pulled into Monument. The irritated passenger seemed to assume he was standing in his way, so pushed past and told him to “go f*** yourself”

A few hours later, the very same fellow turned up for an interview for Forward Partners, with none other than Buckland himself. While Buckland was good-natured about the experience, he did disclose that the man didn’t get the job as “he wasn’t right for the role”.

Image: Shutterstock