TFL

Kate Allen

London cable car

(c) Bloomberg

The latest weekly passenger data for London mayor Boris Johnson’s Thames cable car is out – and it’s not good.

The cable car (sponsored by Emirates, and thus officially known as the Emirates Air Line) launched last summer and was billed as a new route for the city’s frazzled commuters, as well as a tourist attraction and a catalyst for regeneration in the areas it serves. It crosses the Thames between the Greenwich peninsula and Silvertown, to the north of Canary Wharf.

The cable car cost £60m to build and will cost Londoners £6m a year to run (Emirates has contributed £36m in sponsorship, spread over 10 years). It can carry up to 2,500 people an hour in each direction* – the equivalent of 30 buses. That equates to a maximum capacity of 65,000 people per day, or 455,000 a week (for comparison London’s busiest Tube line, the Northern, carries nearly a million passengers a day).

But TFL’s passenger figures show that the cable car isn’t getting anywhere near that level of use. On average our calculations suggest it may be* running at just 7 per cent of capacity. Read more