Mayor defends cable car project despite cost rise

By Simon Hayes on September 23, 2011 10:39 AM |

aa-jan27-Cable142.jpgMayor of London Boris Johnson has defended the benefits his Thames cable car will bring to commuters despite the estimated cost of building the link rising to £60million.

Work is underway to build the link between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks, with completion expected next summer.

Critics have questioned its usefulness, but Mr Johnson insisted the demand for it is there.

In a written statement to the London Assembly this week Mr Johnson said: "The cable car is predicted to carry in excess of a million passengers in its first year of operation.

"Demand is expected to come from three principal sources - people living and working in the surrounding area, people who may use the cable car to visit surrounding facilities such as Excel/O2, and people who choose to use the cable car as an attraction in its own right, drawing new visitors to the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula.

"The cable car will also perform an important role by providing a new public transport link that connects the Greenwich Peninsula to the Royal Docks and the DLR network and future Crossrail station at Custom House."

aa-jul8-cablemap.jpgTicket prices have yet to be revealed, but Mr Johnson said they will be "affordable".

He said: "Actual demand will depend on a number of factors including ticketing arrangements and fare levels and I have made a commitment that fares will be set at a level which includes fares that are affordable for local people.

"I have been clear throughout that the cable car will provide a valuable form of transport and new crossing of the River Thames but also support the economic development of the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula, helping to kick-start development in both areas."

TfL spent £3m to develop the project to the end of March 2011, and now forecasts build costs will be £60m, up from the £54million estimate given earlier this year, all paid by TfL.

TfL aims to recoup this through a combination of commercial sponsorship and third party funding from the European Regional Development Fund. Mr Johnson had pledged the cable car would be entirely privately funded.

A sponsor has yet to be found but TfL said an announcement on that is expected this autumn.


Bernard, Isle of Dogs said:

A cable car that goes from nowhere to nowhere. And Londoners are having to cough up £60 million to pay for this white elephant.

Boris - Spend our taxes on sorting out the traffic first! said:

Another one of Boris's vanity projects! Traffic going to/from East London is getting WORSE & WORSE. Wapping Highway, Upper Thames St & Embankment are now severely congested at non commuter periods such as 11.30 am or 3.30pm. There used to be quite low traffic flow at that time. The traffic light sequence from Pall Mall to Trafalagar Square is now, idiotic with one car being let through at a time.
How will the infrastructure cope when the Olympics are hosted? Boris must prioritise. A cable car would be a lovely cherry on the cake. But the traffic flow and roads must be addressed before that. When that has been done, a greater number of bridges are needed across stretches of water (docks and the Thames) in East London so that people can travel by car, cycle and foot more quickly to their destinations. It has to be said that plain, old roads & bridges don't make for much of an eccentric 'Wiki' entry as a Willy Wonker style cable car, do they Boris?
Who is going to use the cable car after the Olympics, exactly? Not the feral, foaming at the mouth, teenagers with time on their hands to come out to play?

Do the people at TfL know why Motorway Recovery Vehicles and lorries are increasingly using Wapping Highway during the day and clogging up the roads? The lorries should surely be sticking to the M25 for the bulk of travel and travelling during the early hours of the morning for delivery.Can't these companies be given incentives to refrain?

I would pay a higher congestion charge (up to £20/£25)in order to have less traffic on the roads during off peak hours and to contribute to a better road system being built. Some cars are queuing for so long that they are overheating and running out of petrol causing further pile-ups.

I wonder whether the roads in Boris's neck of the woods are suffering a similar, frustrating fate?