14
Apr

2011

London Cable Car: Apparently Not A River Crossing

Post by Steven Dale

Artists rendition of the London Cable Car

Yesterday Simon Hayes of Warf.co.uk wrote a piece on the upcoming London Thames Cable Car (Gondola).

Work apparently is to start this summer and everything but the legalities have been finalized. A bidder has been named, but will not be announced until all legal agreements have been signed.

A spokesman for Transport for London was even quoted as saying the gondolas will be “competitively priced in terms of being incorporated of London’s public transport network and Oyster will be accepted.”

In other words: There’s a good chance this system may actually be integrated by fare.

If so – and I’m not holding my breath – that would be a huge step towards treating this system as a component of the London transport network, rather than merely as a Toy for Tourists.

Nevertheless, there’s always a cynic. In the article, London Assembly member John Biggs is quoted as saying:

“It’s an excellent tourist attraction and will be effective at putting east London on the tourist map. I’ll welcome it if it happens, but it could never be part of the transport network.”

“There’s a massive shortage of river crossings, and we need at least one road crossing over the Thames here. The cable car is an attractive bit of kit, but it falls between two stools.”

It’s hard not to see Mr. Biggs’ viewpoint as somewhat narrow and his comments invite at least three major questions:

One: Why could it never be a part of the transport network? Why can a city that blends subways, double-decker buses and light rail not also incorporate a gondola or cable car system?

Is London incapable of accomplishing what Caracas, Medellin and several Algerian cities have already done?

Two: There is a shortage of above-ground river crossings in East London. Adding the cable car (gondola) increases the number of East London river crossings from zero to one. How then is this a bad thing?

Three: There’s no argument that East London requires at least one road crossing over the Thames. But such a crossing was estimated to cost £500m and could never have been completed in time for the Olympics – a prime impetus behind the cable car (gondola).

Why then view the cable car (gondola) and road crossing as competitors and mutually exclusive items? Just because one is built, that doesn’t necessarily mean the other won’t be, does it?

Why can the cable car (gondola) not be a first step towards getting the road crossing East London so clearly needs and deserves?

Why does it have to be one or the other? Can’t it be both?



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Comments

  1. Good to read some news about the London Cable Car installation. One: It is too small. It COULD function as a part of the network and it however will for a few Londoners, but London in that area has other needs. You will have to keep in mind the connection in that particular area is already very good and what the system is connecting are two huge event locations (O2 Stadium and the EXCEL Convention Centre). "Why can a city that blends subways, double-decker buses and light rail not also incorporate a gondola or cable car system?" The size and its work within the network is almost unnecessary. And as far as I remember it won't be a 3S, is that right? "Is London incapable of accomplishing what Caracas, Medellin and several Algerian cities have already done?" Simply wrong area for the installation. Two: Answered already in (One). Three: It would be good though if there would be additional bridge connections for the Olympics. It is not what the city needs for those 3 weeks of summer games - but in long therm it does. "Can’t it be both?" It can and it will be. And I'm sure it will be integrate by fare, but it will also take a special fare-price (if the private investor still is in).
  2. This area can hardly be said to be short of river crossings! The North Greenwich/O2 cable car station is right above the Blackwall Tunnel, the major road crossing in East London with a local bus about every 10min (route 108). The Jubilee tube line, shown on the map in the Wharf article, dips south of the river to serve the same area providing links both west and north. However getting to/from Excel is tedious, you have to go one stop on the Jubilee to Canning Town then two stops on the DLR. So as well as being more interesting for tourists, the cable car will offer the easiest and fastest journey between these two sites. The obvious parallel is the riverboats. Leaving aside the purely tourist ones, the Thames Clipper serves some tourist destinations but aims to tap the general transport market as well by providing a service that is more comfortable and sometimes faster than other modes. This accepts Oyster but charges a premium fare, so although you use the same smartcard and get a discount on the cash fare you still pay more to travel between A and B by river than by tube. I would expect the cable car to do the same. Apologies for the use of "cable car" rather than "Gondola". This is the general British usage, to us a Gondola is something you only find in Venice! Nowhere is "division by common language" wider than in the naming of transport modes.
  3. I'll build the road crossing if it costs £500. There will be a £1 toll of course, and I reckon I could make my money back in the first few minutes. What an investment.
  4. And the 500-live-happy-ever-after-points go to Matt T. ;) Come on, you knew what was meant. The link behind says £500m by the way. M as in m for million...
  5. @ Matt, My mistake. Indeed a Thames River crossing for 500 pounds would be a steal. Error corrected!
  6. "There is a massive shortage of river crossings in East London. Adding the cable car (gondola) increases the number of East London river crossings from zero to one." Really? Don't Wapping Tunnel (East London Line), Rotherhithe Tunnel, Jubilee Line Tunnel (Canada Water - Canary Wharf), Greenwich Foot Tunnel, Jubilee Line Tunnel (Canary Wharf - North Greenwich), Blackwall Tunnel, Jubilee Line Tunnel (North Greenwich - Canning Town), Woolwich Foot Tunnel, Woolwich Ferry, and Dartford Crossing count as crossings? R
  7. Hi R, I probably misspoke there. I meant above-ground river crossings.
  8. R, I've also adjusted the post to reflect your comments. Thanks!