We haven’t really covered the Emirates Air Line, Boris’s attempt to leave a legacy in London’s rail network (no, seriously, it’s officially run by TfL’s London Rail division).  We might have to if there are any more bizarre nuggets to come out.

Tonight TfL were explaining the nuts and bolts of the scheme (Boris, characteristically, hasn’t bothered to) and the Transport Planning Society have been tweeting it.  Nuggets are:

  • Cable car stats: 5min crossing; 15-30sec headway; 10 people per car; <2,400 people/hr/dir; £36m of £45m construction costs from Emirates.
  • Cable car pricing’s yet to be fixed, but a multi-trip ticket could make cost/trip £1.50-2ish. One-off trips much more. Oyster? Hopefully.

The alternative Jubilee/DLR is about 5-7 minutes journey time, so it’s not really markedly faster.  What about cost?  Now, the current fare on the equivalent existing route (Jubilee to North Greenwich, DLR to Victoria Dock) is currently £1.50 peak/£1.40 off peak, so it appears that Boris is already undercutting his own scheme somewhat.  The predictions of covering the operating costs of £3m do seem a little optimistic on that basis, particularly as TfL seem to suggest that people walking or cycling are the main target audience.  Rather rich walkers and cyclists, it would appear, which I’d have thought wouldn’t amount to 2,400 people per hour in each direction given the current squeeze on household incomes.  In fact it’s not entirely certain TfL can agree with TfL on who the thing’s targetted at.  As the FoI released City Airport risk assessment document explains:

The London Cable Car (LCC) development is due to be opened in 2012 and initially will attract ‘event’ users of the O2 Arena and Excel Centre and a small amount of ‘tourist’ users. Longer term, the development is likely to be increasingly used by local residents and commuters seeking alternatives to bus and DLR/Underground travel options.

As with the cycle hire scheme and the riverboats (and the bus, come to think of it) Boris does like to assume people are desperately anxious not to use existing forms of subsidised public transport in favour of his expensive boondoggles.

Boris has also previously been bullish about the expected usage:

The cable car is predicted to carry in excess of a million passengers in its first year of operation

which implies either an average of just under £3 a passenger coming in (which means fares >£3 given that presumably concessions are valid for kids/elderly/etc.) or alternatively a shortfall in operating costs being made up from somewhere.  However, as with cycle hire and the post rail market a reliance on the post-event market will doubtless result in queues at peak times and empty gondolas the rest of the time, which is hardly an efficient use of resources.  Moreover, TfL themselves are keen to promote the Jubilee Line capacity increase from resignalling as being equivalent to 12,500 passengers per hour, or 2.5 cable cars, and which also operates from nearer the O2 for those post-event crowds, as well as catering for people who want to go somewhere other than the Excel Centre after the event, such as ‘back home to where I actually live on an integrated transport system rather than spending over £3 each having a nice view for five minutes then being dropped into the middle of nowhere’.

What I suspect is actually happening here is that a rich Gulf airline has bought some cheap advertising on the tube map incidentally involving carrying fresh air across the Thames.  I’m unsure this counts as a major milestone in London’s rail history, but it does seem to be making waves in the ‘dodgy commercial sponsorship’ arena not to mention the ‘are you sure about those construction cost estimates?’ arena.

 

18 Responses to Cable Car Fares – Doesn’t Add Up

  1. Greg will be happy.

    When you say that the Cable Car is “not really markedly faster” you are understating the problem.

    The Cable Car supposedly links North Greenwich with the ExCel Centre but from looking at the map the south side terminus is a fair distance from the Tube and Bus station. While the north side is a short walk from Royal Victoria DLR it is a good distance from the ExCel.

    As most people will be travelling either by bus or Tube when you add all the walking with the time taken to ascend and descend at either end then the journey time via Cable Car will be almost double what it would be had you taken the Jubilee Line up to Canning Town, changed onto the DLR and then on to Custom House, the nearest station to the ExCel.

    The construction cost of £45.1m does not include legal advice, project management, land acquisition, etc, and in addition there will be an annual operating cost for the first three years, bringing the total to £62.6m.

    The Emirates £36m sponsorship is for 10 years but it comes with strict conditions which could mean TfL will have pay back sizeable chunks. TfL has applied for £8m from the European Regeneration Fund but that won’t be decided until the summer.

    I would imagine that the reason the Cable Car is included in the rail network is that this is being paid for out of London Rail’s budget.

    “Nice view for five minutes”? Have you seen Canning Town?

  2. Chris says:

    Wonder if there would be a limit to the amount of bikes per journey…. commuter cyclists who are closer to the cable car than they are to Greenwich or Woolwich foot tunnels (or the ferry) might be attracted to this. However, if there are limits per crossing or cyclists get bumped at key times then they might not be too impressed.

    Mind you if they’re getting bumped it may indicate good take-up….

  3. Greg Tingey says:

    Oh dear the infantiles have escaped again

    As the real ASLEF shrugged says – yes.

    MUCH more information HERE:
    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2011/where-lame-ducks-dare-benchmarking-the-london-cable-car/

    Please read it.

    I am fully in agreement with Tom’s original post + ALSEF’s point.
    It’s expensive, it doesn’t connect, it is potentailly really dangerous .. so why the hell is this thing being built at all?

  4. Mwmbwls says:

    If the cable car carries bikes which will take up the space of four passengers – will the rider be charged five time the standard fare to avoid revenue dilution?

  5. Greg Tingey says:

    UPDATE
    The proposed “Rules” or bye-laws (?) for the docks-deathtrap / gondola-car have just been published …
    http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/472/schedule/made

    Unbelievably restrictive.
    If interpreted correctly, you are NOT allowed even to speak whilst in one of these death-traps.
    More comment over at Diamond Geezer, of course.

  6. Geronimo says:

    “If the cable car carries bikes which will take up the space of four passengers – will the rider be charged five time the standard fare to avoid revenue dilution?”

    Do fat people who take up 2 seats on the bus get charged double? – to avoid fare dilution of course!

  7. [...] which duplicates existing provision, for no great consumer advantage, at this ridiculous cost? Tom at Boriswatch, admitting that the cable car had flown under his radar, considered the fares arrangements in some [...]

  8. [...] for what passengers will be paying and how, in February Boris Watch reported indications that we might be looking at anywhere between £1.50 and £3 per journey, which would [...]

  9. [...] for what passengers will be paying and how, in February Boris Watch reported indications that we might be looking at anywhere between £1.50 and £3 per journey, which would [...]

  10. [...] for what passengers will be paying and how, in February Boris Watch reported indications that we might be looking at anywhere between £1.50 and £3 per journey, which would [...]

  11. [...] for what passengers will be paying and how, in February Boris Watch reported indications that we might be looking at anywhere between £1.50 and £3 per journey, which would [...]

  12. [...] for what passengers will be paying and how, in February Boris Watch reported indications that we might be looking at anywhere between £1.50 and £3 per journey, which would [...]

  13. Sam says:

    This is not really an addition to the tube, but more of an attraction. (so not too sure why TFL are involved)

    The London eye cost £70m to build and is visited by 3.5m people annually, I would not be suprised if that no. is close to what this will get.

  14. Toby says:

    This article misses the point, people will choose to use this form of transport as it’s different and fun. Got an hour to kill before an event at the O2 let’s jump on the cable car.

    I’d take my kids on it for eample.

    Will it be included in travel card price?

  15. Chang says:

    There ain’t gonna be much commuter traffic cos no one lives near the Excel centre and no one lives near the O2. May see more use if it is fully integrated into the tube network so that you don’t pay any extra if used as part of one trip. Personally I can’t wait to go on it, but it would have been far better value if placed elsewhere along the river, how about something to replace the ridiculous Woolwich ferry?

  16. Steven Jarvis says:

    IT IS BRILLIANT , may it be followed by many other unique transport experiences across London and Londonshire.
    The Cable Car is even more exciting than the London Eye, another project that the Doomsayers said would never catch on… Cable Car – Get on it-Get with it – Get Off it – Get Over it… ;)

  17. Bristolboy says:

    Interestingly it has been announced that less than 3 months after opening the millionth user has travelled across the Thames using the cable car – with an annual rate of 5 million. I appreciate that this figure is possibly somewhat inflated by Olympics trafic and locals going on it for the novelty value, but it is still much better than pre-operation estimates. With costs of £4.30 standard, £3.20 with a travelcard and £1.60 for ‘frequent flyers’ (plus discounts for children) one would assume that this is raising £10-£20 million at an annual rate, which far exceeds the annual operational costs (£3millionish). Therefore, one would assume that this may actually make considerable money.

    It is also worth noting that this would appear to be a tourist attraction in it’s own right like the London Eye, and so a higher price could potentially be charged if required and, if used as a tourist attraction, this may actually increase usage on other transport (eg the Jubilee Line, DLR etc) as people travel to/from it with the resulting inpact of more revenue from these areas as well.

    I reckon so far, all the signs point to it as being a financial success, even if it is of limited value as an everyday transport form.

  18. Mhmediaonline says:

    As per Greg Tingey, I read the Rules and Regulations. If I interpret them correctly, the use of alcohol, smoking and gambling is allowed if authorised. So what I’m imagining now is a large group of Boris and his chums hiring the system out to have a casino night with drinks and canapés. As long as no-one throws up (soils the cable car) it’ll be fine!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>