diamond geezer

 Thursday, October 18, 2012

It was good to see the Arabfly Dangleway being scrutinised in the news yesterday. SE London newspaper News Shopper submitted a Freedom of Information request regarding passenger numbers on the new cablecar, and got back some interesting data. Indeed, some might say shocking.
"The number of passengers using the controversial Greenwich cable cars nose-dived after the Games to less than five per cent of its capacity."
Let's take a closer look at the figures everyone's getting upset about.

Average number
of passengers
per hour
The last
three days
of the Games
The three days
after the Games

From 1747 passengers an hour during the Olympics to 711 afterwards, that's a 60% drop. And from 1181 passengers an hour during the Paralympics to 246 afterwards, that's an 80% drop. It's a nose-dive alright. These are truly awful figures.

And yet this is rubbish data. The last three days of each Games were a Friday, Saturday and Sunday, which are three touristy types of day. The three days immediately after each Games were a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which are quieter, non-day-out types of day. The newspaper's not comparing like with like here, quite the opposite. Instead these are stage-managed figures, hand-picked to look more awful than they really are. Indeed, if you were to pick any other major London tourist attraction and compare the Fri/Sat/Sun figures with the Mon/Tue/Wed figures, I bet you'd see a substantial drop there too. What we should be comparing is Monday-Wednesday during the Games with Monday-Wednesday after the Games, or something similar. Yes, there's been a huge drop in Dangleway numbers, but not quite as huge as the newspaper's been making out.

As for passenger numbers being "less than five per cent" of the cablecar's capacity, that appears to be true. The cablecar can cope with up to 2500 passengers an hour in each direction, that's a total of 5000 per hour. But immediately after the Paralympics the average was only 246, fractionally below the magic 5% mark. It's a shockingly low percentage. These are truly awful figures.

And yet this is also rubbish data. In this case the problem is the number 2500, merrily splashed around by TfL in early press releases related to the Dangleway's opening. "It has the capacity to carry up to 2500 people per hour in each direction, the equivalent of 30 buses," they crowed. How fantastic it would be to have a new Thames crossing that could move so many people. But this total of 2500 relied on every gondola containing ten passengers, and there being one gondola taking off every fifteen seconds. This was blue skies drivel pumped out by TfL's press office back when they were attempting to portray the Dangleway as a mass people carrier. Alas this fictional mega-capacity has now come back to bite them, as actual passenger totals fall embarrassingly short.

To give you an idea of what a bad statistic "hourly capacity" is, look back again at those peak Olympic ridership figures. The best usage the Dangleway's ever likely to get was during the Games, with all gondolas occupied and queues at either terminal. If you flew over the Thames during the Olympics you were probably crammed in with at least one other party, probably more. There won't have been as many as ten passengers in every cabin, but they were still crowded enough that you wouldn't have wanted to share with more. Crunch the figures - 1747 divided by 5000 - and the number of passengers using the cablecar during the Games was only 35% of the theoretical total capacity. That's a scandal too, yet it's gone unreported while everyone focuses on the 5%.

As an added complication, the Dangleway's not open for the same number of hours each day - opening at 7am on a weekday, 8am on a Saturday and 9am on a Sunday. During the summer it closes at 9pm, in the winter at 8pm, but during the Games the last flight was nearer midnight. Those longer hours during the Olympics meant more traffic, so if you compare total daily passenger numbers the difference between before and after is even more stark. During the Paralympics, for example, the hourly rate of 1181 was spread out over approximately 16 hours, making a daily passenger total of about 19000 people. After the Paralympics, however, those 246 passengers an hour for 13 hours add up to only 3200 people. That's an astonishing 83% drop - the equivalent of five in every six passengers disappearing.

246 passengers an hour is the equivalent of just two double decker buses in each direction - hardly a mammoth user base. Or, looked at another way, the post-Games midweek figure of 246 passengers an hour is only four passengers a minute. That's the equivalent of only one passenger in every gondola, just one, which doesn't sound like a good use of public money to me. It's only brilliant news if you're an introverted tourist, because you're unlikely to have to share your cabin with a screaming child, a passing hen party or, well, anyone really.

However imperfect these figures may be, they correctly reveal the Dangleway as a visitor attraction, not a commuter lifeline. When it's the weekend or during a mega-event, passengers turn up. When it's a bog-standard Wednesday, passengers don't. TfL initially justified the cablecar's construction by saying it would form an integral part of East London's transport network, but that's proven to be bollocks. Instead they've built an expensive novelty sideshow for tourists and thrill-seekers, outside the Travelcard system, on a Mayoral whim.

Speaking in the Evening Standard the Dangleway's boss, Danny Price, is upbeat. "The latest weekly passengers numbers are in line with our forecast for business as usual in the first year of operation," he says. "As with all new transport links, the number of regular users builds over a period of time as people become familiar with new journey possibilities for both work and pleasure." I'm unconvinced. Riding the cablecar to work is always going to be of minor interest. The two terminals are poorly located, and there's a perfectly good tube/DLR journey between the two ends at no additional cost. I can see why passengers will come for pleasure, indeed hundreds of thousands already have, but sightseers are highly unlikely ever to become regular users.

Recent visual evidence suggests that passenger numbers are even lower now that autumn's here. Midweek September was still sort-of the tourist season, whereas grey October weekdays must be attracting even less than 246 passengers an hour. I'd love to know how few passengers there were on the Dangleway yesterday, or indeed how few there'll be on some foggy afternoon in February. To uncover the true paucity of the cablecar's commuter user base, what's really needed is a regular series of Freedom of Information requests to add to the initial data so far unearthed. Go on, who's going to be the first to submit a request? Because however bad the News Shopper's figures may look, I fear we ain't seen nothing yet.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan24  Feb24
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23  Jul23  Aug23  Sep23  Oct23  Nov23  Dec23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
our bow
ian visits
broken tv
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
the greenwich wire
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain
London's most...

read the archive
Jan24  Feb24
Dec23  Nov23  Oct23  Sep23
Aug23  Jul23  Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2023 2022
2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
2011 2010 2009 2008 2007
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
capital ring
river fleet

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards