diamond geezer

 Friday, March 22, 2013

Around the end of March every year, TfL publish their budget for the forthcoming 12 months. This provides numbing detail on how much things cost, but also copious background information on what's planned to happen in the year ahead. All this is to be discussed at a Board Meeting next Wednesday, and the papers are freely available on the TfL website. I've skimmed through and picked out a dozen milestones that are scheduled to happen during the financial year 2013-2014 (purely subjectively and not necessarily because they're important).
Apr 2013 Northern Line Extension: Complete Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) stage ā€œCā€ design
Apr 2013 DLR Double Tracking: Issue Invitation To Tender (ITT) Pudding Mill Lane Station to Waterworks River
May 2013 Croxley Rail Link: LU formal submission of Development Agreement to Hertfordshire County Council for sign off
May and Sep 2013 Crossrail Tunnelling: South-East TBM breakthrough Woolwich box station
Jun 2013 Tottenham Hale Gyratory: High Road (A10 Corridor) switched to two-way traffic
Jul 2013 TfL Website: Launch of new TfL website
Aug 2013 Victoria Station Upgrade: Commence South Ticket Hall Demolition
Aug 2013 Operational Upgrade: All operational readiness requirements complete and accepted to commence Circle Line S stock train operations
Aug 2013 Cycle Superhighways: Cycle Superhighway Route 2 extension - route open
Sep 2013 Working Timetables: Central Working Time Table 67 introduced into Service, improving off peak and weekend service levels
Jan 2014 Future ticketing project (FTP) phase 2: Delivery into service of FTP Phase 2 - Contactless bankcard payments across all modes for PAYG (Pay As You Go) travel
Mar 2014 Pedestrian Countdown at Traffic Signals: Implementation completed for full scheme (200 sites)
Searching through the Board papers also reveals some fresh data about East London's favourite cablecar.
The Emirates Air Line launched ahead of the 2012 Games as the UK's first urban cable car and saw exceptional usage. The forecast total for 2012/13 is 2.0 million passengers. It is anticipated that ridership levels in 2013/14 will return to a more expected level (1.5 million passengers a year).
That's interesting. By my calculations just over half a million people rode the cablecar last year during the Olympic and Paralympic Games. That leaves 1.5 million 'normal' passengers in 2012/13, spread over eight months of 'normal' operation, which is an average of 175000 passengers per month. TfL's target for next year is also 1.5 million passengers, but this time spread across twelve months. That's an average of only 125000 passengers per month, which is a predicted 30% slowdown in passenger traffic. Even excluding the Games, cablecar ridership in is decline.
EAL carried 73,000 passengers in Period 11 (6 Jan - 2 Feb 2013) and availability was 89.1 per cent. Passenger numbers remain in line with the forecast, which projects lower passenger numbers during the autumn and winter than during spring and summer. Weather has a significant impact on the day to day demand, similar to an observation attraction such as the London Eye or a river service such as Thames Clippers. High winds on seven separate occasions accounted for almost all service downtime. Excluding wind, availability would have been 99.8 per cent for the period.
January was never going to be a good time for the cablecar. Indeed this four week total of 73000 passengers is only half the hoped-for average of 125000. But as TfL rightly point out, other tourist-oriented options such as river services also see fewer users when the weather's grim, so midwinter tumbleweed on the cablecar shouldn't be too surprising. The weather's effect on availability is interesting too. High winds closed the cablecar for just over 10% of January, whereas operational and mechanical failures were almost insignificant. No doubt about it, a transport option that shuts unpredictably 10% of the time isn't an especially reliable commuting option.
Passenger demand is at its busiest at weekends and during school holiday periods. February school half term week was the second busiest week since the Games with over 51,000 passengers.
As we all suspected, it's sightseeing, not commuting, driving passenger numbers on the cablecar. When more people live on the North Greenwich peninsula, maybe (maybe) those commuting figures will rise. In the meantime expect a shift to promoting the cablecar for tourist reasons, perhaps like this crass attempt, or this one. The dangleway needs 4000 tourists daily to hit its target... what a shame it's closed this week for maintenance.

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