Mayor defends cable car project despite cost rise
Mayor 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."
Ticket 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.