Boris Johnson this morning announced plans which he hopes will succeed in finally integrating London’s river services into the capital’s transport network.
To deliver his vision, the Mayor has brought together more than thirty organisations, including boat operators, pier owner and local councils, to sign a Concordat with Transport for London which commits them to work together to improve ticketing, piers and passenger information.
TfL has committed to funding an extension of Tower Pier to relieve the congestion. In addition, a new direct service between Canary Wharf and London Bridge, operated by Thames Clippers, comes into operation from today and TfL say Oyster Pay As You Go “will be available on most river commuter services” by Autumn 2009.
Mayor Johnson said “With the right mixture of investment and imagination river services can become a truly integral, as well as an extremely pleasant, part of the capital’s transport network.”
The Mayor said the introduction of Oyster “as well as providing clearer signage to the piers and services available will make it much easier for Londoners to travel on the river.”
The Concordat signatories have agreed to focus on four areas of work:
Integration of the Thames into the transport system: Including river services in the Oyster system will make them much easier to use. Signage will be improved at piers but also at railway stations to make it clear that sometimes it is easier to walk to the pier and take a boat rather than the tube.
The 2012 Games: A full Olympic and Paralympic river service will be in place for the summer of 2012. This will ensure there are services to coordinate with the start and end of events and that piers are ready to cope with the influx of visitors.
Promoting and improving services: Operators will make it clearer to Londoners and visitors what type of service will suit them best so that people can better distinguish between the fast ferries and leisurely cruises.
Infrastructure: Tower pier will be extended by 2011 but opportunities to extend other piers, beginning in central London but eventually heading further east and west, will be explored with developers and pier owners.
Sean Collins, Managing Director, Thames Clippers, said: “I welcome the launch of the river Concordat and the importance that the Mayor has placed on it. Thames Clippers carried 2.7 million passengers in 2008, a 388% increase in passenger numbers over a 2 year period as a direct result of our investment in 6 new fast ferries. I believe that the areas that the Concordat focuses on, especially the Oyster card, will increase demand even further, providing Londoners and visitors to our great city with the high standard of service they deserve and to showcase this to the world in 2012.”