The number of journeys on the Thames Cable Car fell by more than 43,000 last week when compared against the same week in 2012.
In week ending 3 November 2012, there were 70,704 journeys taken, but last week (week ending 2 November) the number fell to just 27,090 journeys – a decline of 43,614.
When the car opened last summer, Transport for London claimed it could carry “up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction” – a maximum daily capacity of 35,000 during its 14 hours of weekday operation.
It later attempted to play down its own figures, insisting they were a theoretical maximum which didn’t take account of differing loading times for passengers with mobility impairments and other requirements.
Despite TfL promoting it online, via its free page in the Metro newspaper, and via paid-for advertising,
the scheme has been plagued by poor ridership figures since last year’s Olympics.
Although it appears on the Tube map, the Cable Car isn’t integrated into the rest of TfL’s transport network or ticketing regime. This means Travelcard and Freedom Pass holders must purchase a separate ticket costing £3.20 and fares are excluded from the Oyster PAYG daily capping.
London Assembly members have repeatedly called on Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London to reduce fares and properly integrate the scheme into the wider network.
In addition to low passenger numbers, the scheme is failing to draw repeat users and live up to initial claims that it would be provide a viable commuter link. A recent survey revealed that just 3% planned to return within a fortnight while 43% were unsure if they would ever take a second trip on it.
In September TfL boss Sir Peter Hendy admitted that journeys had fallen below official forecasts.
While advertising and local leafleting has failed to draw in users, a recent ‘Kids for a Quid’ promotion offering reduced priced journeys exceeded expectations.
The promotion was originally forecast to attract 10,000 passenger visits from schools each year, but by July had attracted more than 14,300.
Commenting on last week’s ridership figures, Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group said: “Despite Transport for London continually spending public money advertising and promoting the Thames cable car it is crystal clear that a decreasing number of people want to pay so much to use it.
“It is time the Mayor and TfL admitted that they are failing to run it either as a successful tourist attraction or as a serious form of public transport.
“If the cable car is to have any success in the long term it should either be run and operated as a privately run tourist attraction, or instead operated as an integral form of public transport, where people with a travelcard or a relevant pass can use it for free and the standard Oyster fare is no more than a bus fare.”