diamond geezer

 Saturday, October 08, 2011

Here's what naked commercialism looks like.
Mayor secures Emirates Airline as private sponsor for pioneering new Thames crossing
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today announced that global airline Emirates will sponsor London's exciting new cable car river crossing, to be known as the Emirates Air Line, in a ten-year deal worth £36m. The Emirates Air Line will connect north and south London, travelling between two new stations set to be named Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Docks.
Here's what £3.6 million quid a year gets you...
  • a cable car system shamelessly named after your airline company (the Emirates Air Line)
  • the station at one end cumbersomely named after your airline company (Emirates Greenwich Peninsula)
  • the station at the other end clumsily named after your airline company (Emirates Royal Docks)
  • the cable car system, and its sponsored name, and the two stations, and their sponsored names, plastered all over millions of copies of the tube map until 2022
  • a red line on the tube map, in your official corporate colour, joining one sponsored station to the other sponsored station (in a garish, extremely distracting way)
  • a new roundel, wider than usual, in corporate red, slapped on the gondolas and the stations and the maps and any other promotional material you can get away with
    The sponsorship deal secured by the Mayor and TfL will see Emirates provide significant private sector investment to this new transport scheme totalling £36m.
    Here's what £36 million quid doesn't get you...
  • enough money to fund the construction of the cable car out of private funds (which leaves umpteen millions to be paid by the public out of TfL's rail budget)
    Scheduled for completion in summer 2012 the Emirates Air Line will offer commuters and visitors majestic aerial views as they travel across the Thames and provide a much needed additional river crossing.
    If it's ready for the Olympics (big if), the cablecar will be a convenient additional transport option between two major Games venues. Even if it's not ready for the Olympics, the cablecar will be a popular tourist attraction. Whether it's ready for the Olympics or not, the cablecar will provide additional cross-river resilience if ever the Jubilee line or Blackwall Tunnel are closed. Whenever it's ready, the cablecar will be bugger all use for commuters, saving incredibly few of them very little time.
    With capacity to carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction in the peak, equivalent to 30 buses per hour, the Emirates Air Line will be the first of a package of measures to improve river crossings in east London. It is anticipated it will carry two million passengers per year.
    Two million passengers a year? That isn't much. It's only 5500 passengers a day - the equivalent of two hours peak-time capacity. It seems that nobody expects this cablecar to be packed, nor even busy. That'll be because it goes from not-quite The O2 to not-quite the Excel exhibition centre, which isn't a journey 99.99% of London's population ever needs to make. For comparison, the Woolwich Ferry carries two and a half million passengers a year, in three clapped-out ferries running not terribly often.
    The Emirates Air Line will be a key element of the Mayor's vision to transform east London into a bustling metropolitan quarter teeming with new businesses, entertainment and leisure facilities supported by world-class transportation.
    No, the Emirates Air Line is an unnecessary shiny thing, conjured up by a Mayor who likes building unnecessary shiny things because they make it look like he's doing something. A big red tower by the Olympic Stadium - unnecessary, shiny, ticketed. A new red bus with a rear platform - unnecessary, shiny, expensive. Barclay-blue cycle lanes across the city - unnecessary, shiny, sponsored. A floating airport in the Thames estuary - unnecessary, shiny, dead. And now a suspended advert for a foreign airline as a tourist's plaything linking nowhere useful - unnecessary, shiny, irrelevant. Of all the things £60m could have been spent on, why this?
    Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, said: 'This multi-million pound deal is tremendous news for London, helping us to deliver a new addition to the city's skyline.
    No, this is a vanity project, a social irrelevance, pimping transport infrastructure to the highest bidder, on the the day Boris prostituted the tube map. Four more years, anyone?

    » The Emirates <spit> Air Line (official TfL project webpage)
    » Emirates airline press release (they're almost as chuffed as when they snared Arsenal)
    » Varied reaction from local media

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