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Traffic Snarls, So Blair Takes Tube

October 26, 1999

LONDON (AP) _ Prime Minister Tony Blair, looking to avoid nighttime traffic, did what many Londoners do _ he took the subway.

Blair hopped out of his bulletproof Daimler sedan in a traffic jam Monday night and led his entourage into the nearby London Underground station, much to the shock of fellow riders and subway workers.

The premier personally paid the 7-pound, or $11.55, bill for tickets for himself, two staff members and two security people. They then boarded the District Line train for the six-stop ride to Westminster station, a short walk from his official residence at 10 Downing St.

Nobody was more surprised than ticket-seller Keith Crosbie.

``I thought, ‘It can’t be,’ but then I realized it was,″ Crosbie said. ``He was very civil and wanted to see how the Underground was working. He asked if everything was all right, and I told him it was.

``Usually we get a warning when someone big is coming to the station so we are well prepared. But this was the top man, and he appeared out of nowhere.″

A spokesman said Blair decided to take the ``tube,″ as the subway is known in London, after an accident brought his official car and a tailing security car to a halt in traffic.

``He’s taken public transport on a number of occasions,″ the spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. However, a bit more planning is usually involved, the spokesman acknowledged.

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