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Just Four People Are Commuting On Boris Johnson's £60 Million Cable Car

The new form of transport is losing its allure.

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Here's Boris Johnson on the Emirates Air Line, the £60 million cable car he got Transport for London to build over the Thames.

Sean Dempsey - WPA Pool / Getty Images

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a fan of the service, which opened in summer 2012. Unfortunately not many other people are.

It offers great views. But figures obtained by Snipe show just four regular commuters are using it.

Scott Heavey / Getty Images

The cable car costs £3.20 to ride in each direction and isn't included in any travelcard scheme. In an attempt to boost commuter traffic Transport for London introduced a regular user discount for Oyster card holders who make more than five journeys a week on the cable car.

But Snipe's persistent digging using Freedom of Information requests shows just four regular commuters hit this threshold during a week in mid-October.

And in the same week only 18 people bought multi-pass tickets, which allow the holder to make 10 journeys in a year.

This isn't great for something that is supposedly part of the capital's transport infrastructure.

The cable car is built to carry 2,500 people an hour. Sometimes it's not even carrying that many in a day.

Scott Heavey / Getty Images

On Monday 14th October just 2,114 journeys were made in either direction.

Total usage has almost halved over the last year with journeys falling to 23,029 for the third week in October, down from 42,463 for the equivalent week in 2012.

Emirates is doing quite well out of it.

Oli Scarff / Getty Images

Boris Johnson had orignally said the project would not put any financial strain on Transport for London. But the Emirates sponsorship deal covers just £36m of the £60m headline cost, with payments spread out over a decade.

In return for that Emirates receives a substantial amount of advertising – their name is on every tube map and features prominently in transport announcements and on status boards at tube stations.

There was also embarrassment when it was revealed that the sponsorship deal included anti-Israel clauses.


Part of the problem is that the cable car doesn't go anywhere much.

Jim Waterson

It runs between the Royal Docks area and the Greenwich peninsula, close to The O2.

But after you've paid £3.20 to cross the river you're left in a carpark that's still five minutes' walk from the venue – or the nearest tube station.

And it's cheaper – and almost as quick – to make the same journey on the tube.

A journey from Royal Docks cable car station to The O2 on the Emirates Air-Line would take at least 15 minutes in off-peak periods, at a cost of £3.20.

You can do the same journey using the DLR and Jubilee line in 17 minutes for a £2.10 tube fare – or for free if you already have a travelcard.

But even if usage is plummeting, at least London has a fancy new form of transport.

Simpsons Wikia / Via

Transport for London says "overall numbers this year are in line with forecasts".

But while the project was originally sold as a transport solution, passenger numbers suggest it's actually a tourist attraction being run by the capital's transport authority.