diamond geezer

 Thursday, July 14, 2016

The cablecar, which opened just before the last Olympics, has now been operational for four years. So how's it doing? TfL have published weekly ridership figures for the full period, so let's take a look. These are the total number of rides in the first week in July from 2012 to 2016.

w/e 7th July 201266,112
w/e 6th July 201340,923
w/e 5th July 201430,273
w/e 4th July 201530,019
w/e 2nd July 201626,103

Don't read too much into that first figure. In July 2012 the Dangleway was days old and its novelty value extremely high. But the subsequent drop off is more marked, currently down by one-third since 2013, and seemingly a 10% fall from last year to this. Let's check that out with a similar table for the first week in February.

w/e 2nd February 201314,755
w/e 5th February 201412,852
w/e 4th February 201521,569
w/e 2nd February 201611,728

There's less of a pattern here, reflecting the fact that winter usage is tied much more strongly to the weather, and to any promotions which might be underway. But the 2016 figure is still the lowest of the lot (and, you'll notice, less than half of the ridership seen in summer).

The best comparison is to look at annual totals, of course, so I've totted up the number of passengers from 28th June to 27th June each year (estimating the division at the overlap where necessary). And this gives a rather different picture.


Essentially that's 2½ million riders in the first year, and 1½ million each year after that. This confirms there's been no significant decline, not since the inaugural year, although the latest figure is 200,000 users lower than the official target of 1.7m.

With TfL now under new management, it's yet to be seen what the future of this transport link will be. Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross said yesterday she doesn't "feel under any pressure" to close the cable car, not least because it remains a popular tourist destination. Val might still decide to bring its fares within the Travelcard and Oyster capping remit, but otherwise it seems that sightseeing remains the prime purpose of Boris's aerial legacy. Perhaps the new Foreign Secretary would like to drum up a few more passengers while he's overseas, or we'll stick on 1½ million a year for the foreseeable future instead.

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