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Thames cable car 'no river crossing solution' says Assembly's John Biggs

PUBLISHED: 13:52 19 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:17 23 October 2012

Cable cars passing above the 02

Cable cars passing above the 02

Archant

The Thames cable car which has seen passenger numbers fall since it opened for the summer Olympics is no solution to east London's desperately-needed river-crossing, according to the London Assembly's budget chairman.

The £60 million river crossing between Silvertown in east London and North Greenwich on the south side has been reduced to “a tourist attraction” because of its high cost.

It is supposed to carry 2,500 passengers an hour—but figures released this week show it only ferried 229 an hour in September, according to Labour’s John Biggs who represents east London on the Assembly.

“The cable car is not a serious transport solution for east London,” he said. “It is a useful and welcome tourist attraction.

“But we need to ask whether the mayor was right at a time of massive budget pressures to spend taxpayers’ money on it.”

But its sponsor, Emirates Air Lines, is only paying £36 million over 10 years out of the total £60m cost.

“Any new river crossing is welcome because the need is so desperate,” Biggs added. “But it’s a shame people in east London have to pay extra.”

He is urging the Mayor of London to incorporate the cable car service into a Zone 1-to-4 travelcard which he believes would attract more commuters—not just tourists “looking for a nice day out.”

But target passenger numbers in its first financial year ending next March have already been reached less than half-way through, according to TfL. This was largely due to an influx of tourists for the summer Olympics. Commuters making the crossing five times a week return get reduced fares using Oyster cards, the transport authority points out.

City Hall was confident passenger numbers would build up over time as commuters became familiar with the new cable link.

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