New TfL figures have revealed that the Emirates Airline cable car saw 354 individual closures between July 2012 and Dec 2014. TfL released the figures after questioning from Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross AM who said the vast number of closures made the cable car “far too unreliable to be a serious option for commuting”. The criticism comes amid a weeklong cable car closure whilst it undergoes maintenance.
The figures showed that between July 2012 and Dec 2014 cable car saw 354 individual closures ranging from a few minutes to over nine hours. Of these 249 were as a result of high winds, with technical issues, lightening risk, port authority and police requests making up the remainder. In total the cable car was closed for 520 hours over the period, the equivalent of 37 operational days or over one day a month, since it opened.
The concerns about the level of closures on the cable car come on top of disappointing usage figures. Despite the Mayor hailing the cable car as “a fantastic deal for London” passenger numbers have dropped significantly since 2012, this year averaging around 4,285 passengers per day. By comparison, the capital’s 25 bus route alone carries almost 64,000 passengers per day.
Labour’s London Assembly Transport Spokesperson Val Shawcross AM said:
“There’s no denying the cable car is a novel tourist attraction but as a transport project it just doesn’t fly. For many Londoners the hundreds of closures every year mean the route is far too unreliable to be a serious option for commuting.
“The Mayor has put £61m of taxpayer money into the cable car despite promising it wouldn’t cost Londoners anything. With our buses and tube lines increasingly overcrowded there are plenty of ways this money could have been better spent. At least its dire passenger numbers mean that only minimal numbers of passengers will have been disrupted by the hundreds of hours of closures.”