Boris Johnson's cable car attracts just 1,400 regular users
By Darryl Chamberlain
23 October 2012, 07:30
Mayor Boris Johnson’s £60 million cable car across the Thames has attracted just 1,400 regular commuters since it opened in June, it has been revealed.
The dismal user figures for the link between Greenwich and the Royal Docks, which has already come in for sharp criticism after a fall in passenger numbers after the Olympic and Paralympic Games, appear in a written answer from the mayor to Liberal Democrat Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon.
Asked how many passengers had been given a discount for regular use, the mayor said “nearly 1,400” had received a discount in the three and a half months since it opened – which would include those who used it frequently during the Games, as well as those using it regularly now.
The Emirates Air Line costs Oyster card users £3.20 for a single journey, whether or not they have a Travelcard loaded onto their card.
But users who make five or more journeys in a week get half that week’s fares refunded to their Oyster card, knocking the price down to £1.60.
The low usage figures will add to questions about the viability of the Emirates Air Line, which links two venues used during London 2012, the O2 and the ExCeL centre.
There have been calls for it to be included in the Travelcard scheme after it was revealed just 229 people per hour used the service each hour the day after the Paralympics ended, less than 10% of its capacity.
Even that figure may be generous. I cycle underneath the cable car most mornings, and have never seen more than a tiny handful of people on board – if there’s any passengers at all.
This week sees Transport for London publish posters and leaflets trying to whip up interest in the service.
One slogan, “The O2 to ExCeL in less than 10 minutes”, sums up the Emirates’ Air Line’s problem – it’s a journey very few people need to make, and those who do can do it cheaper by using the Tube and DLR.
TfL says it is “raising the profile in the local boroughs” – but even then, most of the borough of Newham can get to the O2 easily via the Jubilee Line and DLR; while much of Greenwich borough can take the DLR from Woolwich Arsenal to ExCeL.
Unless you live in parts of Greenwich, Blackheath, Charlton and Canning Town, the Emirates Air Line is little more than a scenic diversion, rather than a serious form of transport.
With opening hours now cut back to 8pm in the evenings – despite TfL’s website imploring us to “take a night ride” – it could be a cold, lonely winter ahead for London’s most baffling form of public transport.