Two years ago I called on Boris to “be more open about the fact that the cable car is a tourist attraction, not a genuine part of the capital’s public transport network.”
In recent weeks he’s done just that – a Mayoral Decision approving a new £1 fare for school groups states that usage patterns are more “consistent with a tourist attraction rather than a commuter service.”
It’s hardly surprising that City Hall are belatedly admitting the scheme’s true nature.
The London Assembly are right that fares are too high for the cable car to win over regular travellers, but rather than try drawing in more weekday users by increasing the subsidy per passenger, TfL should be looking to price it in line with other one-off tourist attractions.
Of course, with value for money being a concern for 44% of users, TfL will need to drastically improve the offering before they can increase prices – they could start by slowing down the cars to increase the journey time and include a return trip in the new, higher fare.
As bus passengers know, and cycle hire scheme members learnt last year, TfL normally likes higher fares so it’d be surprising if they’ve not yet looked at hiking the cost of ‘flights’ on the cable car.
And the Mayoral Decision approving the £1 school fares shows how desperate TfL are for any extra revenue from the scheme – the document reveals that the new fare will raise just £9,000 towards running costs.
Boris could save much of that £9k by axing the lavish expenses culture at the top of TfL and let the school groups travel for free as they do on other transport modes.