Official Transport for London figures show that fares income from the Thames cable car in the second quarter of 2013/14 was 35% lower than expected.
TfL had projected £8.3m in fare revenue in the period but, according to data supplied to London Assembly Member Darren Johnson AM, actual take was just £5.4m.
Although £400,000 of this sum was offset by lower than expected operating costs, the figures reveal income was £2.5m down on TfL’s budget predictions.
TfL has repeatedly stressed that the cable car does not make an operating loss, however its own figures reveal how dependent the scheme is on sponsorship money from Emirates Airlines.
The company pays £3.6m per quarter under its agreement with TfL, without this money the difference between operating costs (£5.3m) and fares income (£5.4m) would have been only £100,000 over the three months.
New ridership figures released yesterday show that the number of trips taken in the most recent reporting period was down 36% from the same period last year.
Assembly Members have repeatedly called on Mayor Boris Johnson to cut fares and to fully integrate the cable car in the Oyster ticketing system in order to boost ridership.
The Mayor has so far resisted such calls despite take up for a cut price offer for school groups beating TfL and City Hall’s projections.
Darren Johnson AM commented: “These shocking figures go to show that the cable car’s ticketing policy needs to be overhauled urgently.
“The Mayor as head of TfL has the power to step in and turn the cable car’s fortunes around and the easiest way to plug the black hole in its finances would be to simply get more passengers through the turnstiles.”
“Including the cable car in the Oyster pay-as-you-go cap, freedom passes and travelcards would make it more affordable to people undertaking everyday travel. It would also ensure the £15.5m of public money used to build the link hadn’t simply funded an expensive vanity project, but a viable part of the public transport network.”