The future of the Woolwich Ferry has been guaranteed after Transport for London committed to replacing the service’s three ageing craft with two “more reliable” vessels.
In addition to buying the new craft, TfL will fund the renovation of their mooring facilities. The works are expected to be complete by March 2018.
The service is popular with residents, many of whom were concerned that plans to build more river crossings in South East London could see it axed despite strong local support for it remaining.
Unlike the ferry, which is free to use, the proposed Silvertown Tunnel would be tolled and closed to pedestrians and cyclists. Some campaigners said this meant axing the ferry would lead to more people making their journeys by car.
News of the service’s reprieve has been welcomed by London Assembly member Darren Johnson, a long-time supporter of residents and campaigners.
The Green party AM said: “I’m delighted that, following pressure from me and campaigners, the Mayor will be putting two new vessels into service on the Woolwich Ferry crossing instead of shutting the service down completely.
“This free link is very much valued by local people, especially those out and about on foot or bike, and the results of Transport for London’s consultations on the future of the Woolwich Ferry showed its popularity.”
“Renovating the Woolwich Ferry will cost far, far less than constructing the Mayor’s proposed damaging new road crossings at either Gallions Reach or Silvertown.”
Mr Johnson also said London’s next mayor “must scrap those schemes on day one and focus instead on building cross-river links for those on bike, foot or public transport.”
News of TfL’s investment was also welcomed by Labour Assembly Member Len Duvall who said: “This historic part of East London transport has played a vital role in Woolwich’s development, and brought many jobs to the local area. It’s little wonder it holds such a special place in the heart of local people.
“This is great news for local people, it also means that TfL will improve the roundabout leading to the ferry to avoid congestion at peak times.
“We know that if we can keep traffic moving it will contribute to improving air quality, and that can only benefit our local community.”
Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesperson, said: “I very much welcome this back down by TfL.
“In the rush to push ahead with the tolled Silvertown Tunnel and other road crossings TfL were willing to sacrifice the free Woolwich Ferry, which is not only popular locally but incredibly helpful for pedestrians and cyclists.
“I hope that in addition to retaining the Woolwich Ferry service consideration is now given to extending its operating hours, especially on a Sunday.”