Cable Car Opens

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Following on from last week’s post confirming the opening details, the new Cable Car is now officially open.

Staying true to our general intention to not write about things that have already been covered rather well elsewhere, we’d like to highlight both IanVisit’s coverage of the pre-opening, and DiamondGeezer’s ever thorough take on events.

Beyond this, one additional piece of information does appear to have surfaced which is worth highlighting here. Previous commentors have, on occasion, asked as to the likely impact of high winds on the pattern of operation. Currently, it appears that the Cable Car will not operate when winds are in excess of 18m/s. TfL estimate that this, along with maintenance needs, will ultimately lead to about a week’s worth of closures a year.

Finally, we highly recommend reading the initial assessment of the system put together by our good friends over at the Gondola Project. As we mentioned in our previous piece, the pricing announcement last week did nothing to bring clarity to the real role of the Cable Car, with it seemingly being either a “tourist attraction” or a “system for Londoners” depending on who is talking about it – and where.

With this in mind, the Gondola Project piece includes a brief look at what level of tourist travel would be required to cover the annual operating cost, and what this means for commuters:

Had Transport for London (TfL) positioned this as nothing more than an additional attraction for the city’s 30 million annual international tourists, that would be fine. After all, at £8.60 per round-trip, it will take a very small percentage of London tourists to both pay for the system’s annual operating costs as well as pay off TfL’s £24 million share of the project’s total £60 million price tag.

Let’s assume, for example, that this system costs £5 million per year for operations, maintenance, spare parts and the annual payments for capital costs. That’s reasonable and probably on the conservative side.

In the above scenario, only 2% of annual tourists to London need to ride this system to keep it afloat (assuming a round-trip fare of £8.60). I’m not going to comment on whether or not 2% of annual tourists to London will ride this system, but it’s a bet that most people would be willing to make.

The question, then, is why local commuters – already paying some of the the highest transit fares in the world – are being forced to pay an additional fare to use what is, honestly, a minor transit connection?

The piece is worth a read.

Written by John Bull