Cable car usage falls as low as 300 per day

Passenger numbers remain far below predictions. Image: TfL
Daily ridership on the Thames cable car has fallen to as low as 301 passengers according to official figures released by Mayor Boris Johnson.

The figures were released in response to a question from Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson.

They show that the majority of journeys continue to take place at the weekend and that the scheme is failing to attract the high level of commuters the Mayor and Transport for London predicted.

TfL originally said the £65m scheme could carry “up to 2,500 people per hour” – a maximum daily capacity of 35,000 during its 14 hours of weekday operation.

However for three of the nine weeks between September 9th – November 11th the total weekly passenger numbers was lower than the projected single day capacity.

Total usage for week commencing 23rd September was just 31,721 with more than half (16,824) of journeys taking place on the Saturday. Figures for weeks commencing 21st October and 4th November were 33,023 and 34,885 respectively.

The highest usage level for the period was 70,704 journeys in week commencing 28th October.

Monday 24th September saw just 301 passengers use the cable car across the entire day after “high winds” forced its closure for 8 hours from around 11.49 to 19.55.

Scheduled opening hours for the date in question were 07.00 – 21.00.

On a total of eight occasions total daily use was lower than TfL’s hourly prediction of 2,500 passengers.

In the same nine weeks, daily sales of the multi-journey boarding pass which saves regular users money on their journeys rarely achieved double digits. On 3 days just one pass was sold, while on 2 further days no sales were made.

The figures suggest few users see the cable car as a regular transport mode while its closure in bad weather makes it an unreliable and unpredictable option.

Travecard and Freedom Pass holders are unable to use their existing passes to travel on the cable car and must instead purchase a separate ticket costing £3.20 per journey.

Last month the Mayor rejected London Assembly calls to reconsider fare levels for the scheme and integrate it into the capital’s wider fares system.

Commenting on the figures, Assembly Member Johnson said: “The Mayor’s failure to properly integrate the cable car into London’s transport infrastructure has led to these extremely disappointing passenger numbers. Although a more popular route could have been chosen from the start, such as from Greenwich peninsula to Canary Wharf rather than Excel, this crossing still has the potential to be useful. Sadly, Londoners are not building the cable car into their daily transport routine because of an ill-advised ticketing policy.

“To boost ridership he should review the ticketing policy to include the cable car in travelcards, the freedom pass and the Oyster cap so that it is more attractive to Londoners undertaking everyday travel. Otherwise, the cable car risks becoming the white elephant of the Olympics when it has the potential to become an integrated part of London’s transport network.”

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, has branded the passenger numbers as “pitiful”.

Ms Pidgeon said: “It is now increasingly clear that the Thames cable car is little more than a tourist attraction and not proving a useful link for people who regularly commute across the Thames.

“Of course if the Mayor had just been honest about this from the outset and honoured his claim that the scheme would be funded entirely from private funds there would be no complaints. But that is not what he promised Londoners.

“Having poured so much public money into the scheme the Mayor must now ensure it operates like an integral form of public transport. A good start would be to ensure that people with a relevant Travelcard are not charged again for using a publicly funded transport scheme.”


  1. Richard says

    Your headling is disgraceful and worthy of tabloid journalism. “As low as 300 per day” – it was hardly a typical day!