One year and two summers after its opening, the Dangleway isn't doing as well as it could. Visitor numbersare low, currently bubbling along just under 30000 passengers a week, and on the decline compared to this time last year. Ridership is also strongly skewed towards the weekends rather than weekdays, because TfL have a tourist attraction on their hands, not a viable commuter option. We know this already about the cablecar. And we know there are two major reasons why.
i) It doesn't go anywhere useful
ii) It costs extra
Alas, these are two immovable problems. TfL can't relocate the cablecar somewhere else to link two genuinely desirable locations, its position is fixed. And TfL show no absolutely signs of backing down and absorbing cablecar journeys into existing Travelcard zonal fares, despite considerable pressure from the London Assembly. So those who genuinely need to cross the river between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks use the Jubilee line instead. And those who want to spend £3.20-£8.60 for a skyride come solely for the views, and tend to come just the once.
But the cablecar has one enormous plus.
iii) It's a cablecar ffs
So TfL have been trying various means of promotion to increase passenger numbers, based on the cablecar's innate appeal as an aerial experience. Here are some of the things they've tried already.
• Stocking full colour 4-page leaflets in all tube stations (TfL must have printed tens of thousands of these, they're everywhere)
• Plugging the cablecar prominently on the TfL website homepage(it'll be even more prominent on the new updated TfL website, rolling out later this year)
• Slapping up cablecar adverts at stations, on buses and in trains (for example at Stratford International DLR station, where nobody else wants to advertise, so cablecar promotional posters are on all the walls)
• Offering a Frequent Flyer discount(make five or more journeys this week, then get half your fare back when you travel next week) (yeah right)
• Running an upbeat promotional Twitter account(although, amusingly, they seem to spend half their time apologising to would-be fliers that they're not the proper airline)
• Offering parties of schoolchildren a ride on the cablecar for just £1 (a damned clever way of making the ridership numbers look more impressive than they really are)
• Opening a cafe and an Emirates Air Linepromotional exhibition at the North Greenwich terminal (for which you pay extra, so no thanks)
• Inviting Lethal Bizzle to perform his latest single, Party Right, 90 metres above the River Thames (as cringeworthy as you'd expect)
• Encouraging £100+coachholidays from the provinces to Greenwich, with the highlight being a trip on "London's Olympic Cable Car" (that's a ten minute highlight, woo yeah)
• Urging visitors to the O2 to pre-book their cablecar tickets(this is new) (they even urge you to "book your boarding passes now to avoid the queues", ha!) (you can only pre-book a full price fare, not the Oyster discount)
• Publishing a jaunty YouTube video to encourage you to view "the lights of London at night" from the cablecar (somehow I thought the lights of London would look more impressive than that, but meh)
But come on, surely we can think of better. Let's help out Cablecar Supremo Danny Price and come up with some even better promotional ideas. The first five are mine. And I'll post the best of yours below.
» Give each rider a Lucky Bingo Number and offer a £100 weekly prize.
» Construct a statue of Justin Bieber at the western end of the Royal Docks.
» Refit 50% of the gondolas as boutique hotel rooms.
» On Tuesday evenings speed everything up so a crossing takes two minutes, to attract thrillseekers.
» Bid for the Olympics again in 2024. » Since it's an airline, set up a dutyfree at each end for departing passengers.
» Extend the cablecar to Tower Bridge to make it a proper tourist experience.
» Do a deal with Excel to include a one way trip in the conference ticket price.
» Say you're having a closing down "event" to encourage people to take their "last ever" dangle on the Dangleway.
» Run a smear campaign against the Jubilee Line, criticising the trains, the reliability, and the fact that you can't see bugger all underground.
» FREE cable car styled cupcake on completion of your journey. [Voucher only valid for redemption at the terminal in which you started your journey]
» Offer a car with curtains and a mattress, and give people the option to join the "90m high" club.
» Your promotional idea here