Passenger numbers for the Thames Cable Car have fallen below official forecasts, Transport Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has admitted.
Without the support of last year’s Olympic games, the scheme has struggled to attract the large numbers of passengers needed to deliver on early claims that it was a fully integrated part of the capital’s transport network.
In the fourteen weeks between week ending June 1st and week ending August 31st, passenger numbers failed to exceed 40,000 in six weeks and rose above 60,000 just once.
In two of the weeks during this period fewer than 30,000 passengers used the scheme.
The numbers are significantly below last year when the presence of the Olympics saw passenger numbers climb as high as 180,804 in the week ending 11 August 2012.
In the same week this year just 51,317 visitors used the scheme and last week passenger numbers fell to just 23,466.
In his report to next week’s Transport for London board meeting, Sir Peter admits “journeys for periods 3, 4 and 5 were 4 per cent down against budget”.
The decline in journeys comes despite a number of measures aimed at boosting use, including a major online and print advertising campaign valued by City Hall insiders as worth “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
Passenger numbers could have been lower still but for a City Hall originated scheme offering cut-price fares of £1 to pupils when visiting as part of an organised school trip.
The ‘kids for a quid’ scheme was originally forecast to attract 10,000 passenger visits from schools each year, but by July had already attracted more than 14,300.
Having originally denied the cable car was a tourist attraction, TfL has now partnered with the O2 to sell tickets as part of packages which include access to the British Music Experience and rides on Thames Clippers services.
Sir Peter’s report claims passenger satisfaction is high, with users scoring the scheme “93 out of 100” in a recent but unpublished survey.
Earlier this year TfL made similar claims about surveys which, when eventually published, revealed passengers were scoring the scheme as a tourist attraction and that few had any intention of making return visits.
A poll conducted between September 2012 and January 2013 revealed that just 56% considered the cable car offered value for money, and that a quarter of passengers felt the 10 minute journey time was too short.
TfL have been asked for a full copy of the latest survey on which Sir Peter’s claims are based.