Greenwich Emirates Air Line Thames cable car passenger numbers nose-dive after Olympics
Mayor of London Boris Johnson previously claimed the Emirates Air Line provided a "much needed river crossing" carrying up to 50 bus loads per hour
THE NUMBER of passengers using the controversial Greenwich cable cars nose-dived after the Games to less than five per cent of its capacity.
Opinion was divided over whether the £60m five-minute flight line between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks would offer a vital transport link or act as an Olympic gimmick.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson previously boasted the Emirates Air Line cable cars provided a "much needed river crossing" which could carry up to 2,500 passengers per hour - equivalent to 50 bus loads - in each direction.
Yet a News Shopper Freedom of Information request has revealed an average of just 229 people per hour - less than five per cent of the capacity - used the cable cars per hour the day after the Paralympic Games ended.
The figures highlight the cable cars were well-used - although below full capacity - during London 2012 but those numbers plummeted post-Games.
There was an average 1,747 people per hour taking the flight for the last three days of the Olympics compared to 711 for the three days after the Olympics.
The last three days of the Paralympics saw an average 1,181 passengers per hour compared to 246 for the following three weekdays after the Games ended.
This dramatic drop suggests the service is used far more by tourists during a peak period than by Londoners.
While offering panoramic view over The Thames, the transport link is not included on Oyster travelcards which may deter commuters.
Community group Greenwich 2012 coordinator Edward Hill said: "I am sad about the low numbers. I think it is actually a nice feature and it’s how to make it work better."
The 64-year-old, who lives in Westcombe Park, added that the most important thing would be to get it set up on the travelcard system to encourage regular use.
It currently costs £4.30 for a regular fare or £3.20 for a single trip with an Oyster. There is also a "frequent flyer" pass of £16 for 10 single journeys.
Leader of the Lib Dem London Assembly Group and chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee Caroline Pidgeon AM told News Shopper: "The mayor must now come clean and start publishing regular figures showing how many people are actually using the cable car for every day that it operates.
"A bit of honesty over customer figures is especially important following his misleading claims that the cable car would not cost a penny of taxpayers' money.”
She suggested people with a Zone 3 travelcard or Freedom Pass should not be charged extra to use the cable car.
Responding to the figures, TfL's Head of the Emirates Air Line Danny Price said: "Since opening, the Emirates Air Line has already exceeded the estimated target of carrying 1.3 million passengers for the first financial year (March 2013).
"It played a key role in transporting passengers between two London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venues during the summer with opening hours extended to 23:30.
"Now the London 2012 Games are over opening hours have gone back to normal and the latest weekly passengers numbers are in line with our forecast for business as usual in the first year of operation.
"As with all new transport links, the number of regular users builds over a period of time as people become familiar with new journey possibilities for both work and pleasure."
He added that following the "exceptional" Games period, TfL will be raising the profile of the cable cars.