Fresh from his success in introducing the London cycle scheme Boris Johnson has switched his attention to the health of London's Underground users. "I know how hot it can be commuting on the tube and the last thing you want is to step out into the street at this time of year and catch a cold as you make your way to the office. We wanted to make Londoners' journeys as safe as possible and the last thing you need is to be stuck next to somebody coughing and sneezing. All you need to do is to register, pay an access fee and then you can pick up a nice blue cardigan for a day for 50p".
Secret trials have been running for the last two years during the autumn and early winter months to gauge take-up and iron out any operational problems. A spokesperson for TFL commented - "In the 1st year we sourced all of our jackets, gloves and scarves from BHS but we found that nobody under the age of 50 would wear the stuff. Boris wanted a better take up across all age ranges so last year we did a deal with Next. Things improved by over 50%, especially with the drunks on the Circle line who would wake up and need something to keep themselves warm as they staggered home in the early hours."
Initially the Clothing Stations were positioned outside a number of key central stations but due to "difficulties" during the trials it has been decided to move these back behind the barriers. It is understood that one market trader, Darryl O'Brien, who works near Brixton underground station is still in discussion with his lawyers after tube users mistook his stall for the clothing station. "I suddenly had a huge queue one morning - people were thrusting money into my hands and grabbing clothing faster than I could cope with. It was only after they'd all gone that I realised that I had lost all my leather jackets and only had thirty quid in 50p's to show for it.
Also, clothing will be available for hire at any time the underground system is open rather than just during the rush hour. This was after police were called to South Kensington station last year after a large group of students were seen breaking into the clothing containers on a very cold night after a particularly heavy session.
TFL refused to confirm that only 1 in 20 items hired was ever returned.