This morning the budget committee took evidence from TfL deputy chairman Daniel Moylan. We were looking at the sponsorship deals for the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and the Emirates Cable Car, as well as future options for exchanging private money for publicity or naming rights.
A Question of Taste
Daniel accepted that there were limits imposed by generally accepted considerations of good taste.
The McDonalds Buckingham Palace Experience would in his view be a step too far, and I'm inclined to agree.
Renaming Knightsbridge Station as Harrods would also be off the agenda - although I can't see why, given that many of the passengers travelling to Knightsbridge are heading for the upmarket department store, indeed a renaming in this case might actually help tourists to find their way. Naming a station after a football club would be considered, indeed Arsenal set the trend many years ago.
A proposal to temporarily rename Oxford Circus as Oxford Landing (after a brand of wine) had been turned down as failing just about every test that TfL applied to sponsorship.
And the Spearmint Rhino Cable Car, whilst never on offer would have been deemed inappropriate too - as well as distracting from the river crossing views...
And whilst having short term loanmakers Wonga.com sponsoring free travel on New Year's Eve was not seen as a mistake, it seemed pretty clear that there would be no repeat of this donation.
And the agreement cuts both ways, so if strikes or inefficiencies damage the services then the sponsors would be entitled to some of their money back. In the case of the cable car, TfL have to provide 97% reliability over 28 days or Emirates get a partial refund.
An agreement to sponsor free bottled water on the Tube during hot weather had been reached in the past and would be considered for the future.
Venezuelan support for public transport had been agreed in the past but would not be considered by the current administration.
I was keen that TfL explore options for smaller sponsors to contribute to smaller and lower profile schemes. For example, the abandoned project to install a lift at Newbury Park would only cost a couple of million and this could be sought in part from the large superstores near to the station. Or Romford Bus Station - currently a confusing and dirty maze for non locals - could be reorganised and cleaned up using contributions from local businesses in return for permanent publicity. The director from TfL said that options for lower level sponsorship were being considered.