Almost Impossible

Email: him at hum dot it

Date: 27 March 2008

Our Ref: TfL 76466

Dear Sir/Madam

Thank you for your email of 16 February to the Mayor’s Office requesting a ban of alcohol on public transport. I am replying on their behalf and apologise for the delay in getting back to you.

Applying a ban on alcohol across the whole of public transport, would cause a number of considerable problems, especially on the enforcement side of things.

From a legal perspective, London Underground Byelaws state that ‘where reasonable notice is, or has been given prohibiting intoxicating liquor on any train service, no person shall have any intoxicating liquor with him on it, or attempt to enter such train with intoxicating liquor with him’.

Our staff do on occasion have to prevent people from travelling who may be too drunk to do so and would cause a danger to themselves or others.

However, it would be almost impossible to enforce a total ban on alcohol on the tube for several reasons. The cost and practicalities of policing a ban such as this would be difficult to meet. Just by thinking about Oxford Circus or Leicester Square station on a busy Saturday night with the staff trying to search every person coming in and turning most away, you can see how unworkable this would be.

Furthermore, it would be very easy for a member of the public to enter a station and board a train without station staff knowing they had alcohol on them. A total ban would also penalise non-trouble making passengers. For instance it would mean that customers having completed their supermarket shopping of food and possibly alcohol would not be able to transport it home on the tube.

Turning to the bus network, taking alcohol onboard is not illegal, except for buses going to certain sporting events and there are no plans to introduce such a ban. However, bus drivers have discretion to refuse entry on the bus to anyone they feel is likely to cause a problem, for whatever reason.

As National Rail is privatised the network comes under the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) control rather than Transport for London of which the Mayor is chair, so you may wish to contact them directly at for their comments.

I appreciate your concern about alcohol on public transport but I hope I have clarified the situation for you.
Yours faithfully

Jasmine Howard
Central Customer Services

On Public Transport