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Emirates Air Line

Only four regular commuters using Emirates Air Line cable car, TfL admits

By Darryl Chamberlain
20 November 2013, 01:00

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Just four regular commuters are now using the Emirates Air Line cable car between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks, down from 16 last autumn, new figures released to The Scoop reveal.

Only four Oyster card holders used mayor Boris Johnson’s £60m link more than five times in the week ending 19 October, triggering a regular users’ discount.

The figures also detail a sharp drop in usage compared with the same week last year, with just 6,266 trips made on Sunday 19 October, the week’s busiest day – compared with over 16,180 on the equivalent Sunday in 2012.

The Scoop used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a detailed breakdown of usage during the week. Just as we did for the same week in 2012, we asked for hourly usage figures between Saturday 13 and Sunday 19 October.

Sun 13th Mon 14th Tue 15th Wed 16th Thu 17th Fri 18th Sat 19th
North 1,232 851 1,330 722 1,426 1,055 2,527
South 1,893 1,263 1,837 1,146 2,095 1,913 3,739
TOTAL 3,125 2,114 3,167 1,868 3,521 2,968 6,266
Total cable car passengers, broken down into north and southbound journeys, 13-19 October 2013. Source: TfL

23,029 journeys were recorded that week – well down on the 42,463 a year previously. The sharpest drops were seen at the weekend, indicating the cable car’s novelty as a tourist attraction is fading.

Indeed, the cable car’s second busiest day that week was Thursday, with 3,521 journeys, a figure likely to have been boosted by a teachers’ strike that day. Across the week, 468 students and teachers were carried as part of a schools’ scheme, with the pupils charged £1 and teachers travelling free.

On top of the four regular Oyster commuters, just 18 multi-trip passes – allowing users to pay in advance for 10 journeys across a year – were sold, compared with 41 last year.

Weekday use of the cable car remained roughly the same, at 13,638. But if City Hall is looking for good news from the passenger numbers, then more people are using the cable car in the early morning – albeit from a pitifully low base.

0700- 0759 0800- 0859 0900- 0959 1000- 1059 1100- 1159 1200- 1259 1300- 1359 1400- 1459 1500- 1559 1600- 1659 1700- 1759 1800- 1859 1900- 1959
Sun 13 Oct - 9 30 84 156 231 329 313 379 419 489 407 279
Mon 14 Oct 9 15 135 131 166 204 247 204 227 230 213 158 175
Tue 15 Oct 17 28 36 87 297 218 266 289 410 394 479 321 325
Wed 16 Oct 11 22 21 113 121 118 265 148 179 167 206 242 255
Thu 17 Oct 14 36 57 140 290 410 370 414 386 411 411 329 253
Fri 19 Oct 12 24 36 116 190 278 239 327 411 312 329 344 350
Sat 19 Oct 9 11 68 205 381 515 622 623 817 862 819 711 623
Cable car passengers, hour by hour, between Sunday 13 and Saturday 19 October. Source: TfL. See equivalent data for Tube journeys from North Greenwich to nearby DLR stations.

Just nine people used the cable car between 8am and 9am on the Sunday, a low repeated between 7-8am on both the Monday and Saturday. But that’s far more than the three passengers recorded in the Emirates Air Line’s lowest hour last year, and more than the number of passengers making the equivalent journey on the Tube and DLR to or from North Greenwich.

There are also more people using the cable car in its final hour of operation, after 7pm each day, which may be down to TfL placing staff at North Greenwich station each evening promoting it to people heading to shows at the O2.

Travelcards and Freedom Passes are not valid on the cable car, with Oyster card-carrying passengers charged £3.20 each way to use it. TfL has rebuffed calls from London Assembly members to include it in the Travelcard scheme.

TfL said in a statement issued alongside the figures: “Passenger numbers fluctuate due to a wide range of factors from week to week, however overall numbers this year are in line with forecasts.

“Since opening in June 2012 the Emirates Air Line has carried nearly three million people and as a vital new crossing in east London it continues to play a key role in attracting investment to this strategically important part of the capital.”

Darryl Chamberlain
Darryl writes Greenwich's 853 Blog and contributes to the Charlton Champion.

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