Passenger numbers on the Thames Cable Car soared during the London Olympics, allowing Transport for London and Mayor Boris Johnson to hail the scheme as a success.
Last week TfL announced passenger numbers had exceeded half a million since the scheme opened on June 28th and claimed: “On average, since the start of the Olympics more than 20,000 flights have been taken on the Emirates Air Line each day.”
Internal TfL figures provided to the London Assembly Green Group show that prior to the Olympics actual daily journeys were as low as 5,138 and exceeded 8,000 weekday journeys on just two dates – 17th and 20th July.
In the first, second and fourth weeks of operation almost half the weekly journeys took place on the weekend.
In the first full week of operation (1st – 7th July) TfL recorded 66,112 passengers, 33,796 of whom travelled on the weekend. In the same period weekday use was as low as 5,270.
The figure is equal to just two hours of the scheme’s maximum capacity of “2,500 people per hour in each direction”.
Despite highlighting the 2,500 capacity in earlier statements, TfL last week claimed it was a theoretical maximum which didn’t take account of differing loading times for passengers with mobility impairments and other requirements.
TfL’s figures also show that the majority of usage (335,572 passengers) took place during the Olympic Games period with weekday passenger numbers climbing as high as 28,000.
The Cable Car links the ExCeL and North Greenwich Arena, both of which were used during the Games.
The figures do not cover the period since the closing ceremony.
Commenting on the figures, Green London Assembly member Jenny Jones said: “The Mayor has missed a crucial opportunity to fully integrate the cable car into the public transport ticketing system. He should review the decision to exclude cable car journeys from the normal ticketing arrangement if he wants people to use it as a regular part of their commuting journey.
“Frequent flyers will be able to buy 10 tickets for £16 which is around £64 a month if used every day as part of the commute, way out of reach for the average commuter, and a bad use of the public money spent in its construction.”