Back to work. Back to school. Back to life emerging post-lockdown. All too quickly the roads have become clogged and yet one of the main arteries of South West London – Hammersmith Bridge - remains shut with the impacts proving far-reaching. Initially closed to just vehicles in 2019 due to potentially dangerous cracks, the 133 year old Victorian Bridge was further shut to pedestrians and cyclists on 13 August 2020 when the cracks widened in a heatwave, forcing commuters, residents and pupils in south-west London to make long diversions to adjacent bridges in order to cross. The nearest alternative crossing points are Putney Bridge to the east and Chiswick Bridge to the west, and the tide means the towpath can often be underwater at peak times.

Despite many discussions about mending the bridge or even building another one, there has been no action taken. However, a ray of hope has come with the prospect of a passenger ferry across the Thames. 

Uber Boat has been chosen by Transport for London (TfL) to run a Thames ferry service by the end of summer. The boat service, operated by Thames Clippers, will take up to 800 cyclists and pedestrians across the river at a time between 6am and 10pm daily. The boats that will operate the service are Fairey Brooke Marine 'Hydrocat' high-speed catamarans, 25 metres in length. Fares are expected to be the same of those of buses at £1.55 and would be part of the Hopper scheme, so that people arriving by bus would not have to pay extra provided they embark within an hour of starting their original journey. 

In a statement, a TfL spokesmen said: "There will be a full programme of engagement with the local community and other river users ahead of any planning application being submitted. TfL is working with other members of the Hammersmith Bridge Taskforce to agree a long-term solution that would fully reopen the bridge to all road users."

"The passenger-carrying capacity of the ferry will be significantly lower than the Bridge and for thousands of my constituents the devastation will continue", Sarah Olney, the MP for Richmond Park, commented. "We need access soon restored for pedestrians and cyclists at an absolute minimum but for that to happen the Government must be prepared to underwrite the cost of the permanent repairs."

Not only will this be beneficial for all of those who require regular access across the river, but will also markedly improve the congested roads within the Borough of a Richmond upon Thames.