An American in London

Why a London Underground replay of the New York Subway refurbishment was unsuccessful
  • Martin De Jong
  • Nadav Haran
Part of the The GeoJournal Library book series (GEJL, volume 74)


Policies transferred from elsewhere can when planted in alien soil, encounter different legal and cultural traditions that may sometimes render them ineffective or even counter-productive. But what happens if policies are transferred between two countries that are part of the same family of nations (Castles, 1993)? Then, at least, legal and cultural differences can be dispensed with. This facilitates exchange of information dramatically and policy borrowers can be forewarned against possible pitfalls. One finds similar situations described in the retail planning chapter of this book (from France to Spain) and the privatisation programme in New Zealand, which was based on mixed Anglo-American sources. Circumstances surrounding a successful transplant appear to be even more ideal when the person who was responsible for developing the original gets the unique chance to copy his own success in another country, which is deemed culturally similar. Such the situation will be described in this chapter, when Robert Kiley, the man responsible for getting the New York Subway back on track in the 1980s after years of disinvestment, neglect, low quality service and safety problems, was asked to take on the London Underground system and turn it around. His particular managerial and financial-economic recipe, used in New York, seemed also particularly appropriate in the British context ten years later. The London Underground, New York Subway’s British counterpart, suffered from comparable problems which apparently begged for comparable medicines to cure its ills. This was what London’s new Mayor, Ken Livingstone, elected on the basis of his plans to improve the performance of the ‘Tube’ among other things, had in mind when he hired Kiley to be his commissioner for Transport for London, that is to head London’s metropolitan body for transport planning and management. It did not work out. In this chapter, we give an account of the problems that occurred when Kiley attempted to repeat his successful New York trick in the supposedly friendly soils of London.


Central Government Public Private Partnership Public Transport System Municipal Bond Deputy Prime Minister 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin De Jong
  • Nadav Haran

There are no affiliations available

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