Emirates Air Line

23
Feb

2017

Emirates Air Line Cable Car: London’s Best Transport Line?

Image by Flickr user fsse8info.

Since the Emirates Air Line (EAL) cable car first took flight in 2012, local media coverage of the system has not been particularly kind. Detractors have called it everything and anything you could think of: white elephant, dangleway, Boris’s vanity project — just to name a few.

Unfortunately, what’s often lost in this conversation is the many successes experienced by London’s first and only urban gondola. As discussed in a previous post, an oft-forgotten but very important point is that the cable car actually makes a profit — a surplus of US$1.25mm (£1mm) since its opening. 

How many other public transport systems can say that? Very few except for a handful in highly dense Asian cities

Emirates Air Line Cable Car Customer Satisfaction

Emirates Air Line cable car rated the best transport mode in London. Image from Tfl.

A preliminary examination of the cable car’s performance data also depicts a much rosier picture than what is often associated with the cable car. In particular, the customer satisfaction report from Jan-Mar 2016 provides some great insight. 

Based on customer surveys conducted for all Transport for London (Tfl) modes, the Emirates Air Line cable car has consistently received the highest level of customer satisfaction at 93-94 points. Comparatively speaking, this is ~8-12 points higher than the customer satisfaction levels seen on the London Underground and ~17-19 points higher than London Roads.

What people like and dislike about the Emirates Air Line cable car.

What people like and dislike about the Emirates Air Line cable car. Image from Tfl. 

The urban cable car has also received much praise from sampled passengers (base size: 590-861) where personal safety, helpfulness/appearance of staff, ease of getting into cabin, and warmth /friendliness of staff were ranked as the system’s biggest strengths.

As for it weaknesses, respondents suggested that it did not have the best “Value for Money”. This seems somewhat counter-intuitive since a one-way adult ticket price is just USD$4.25-5.50 (£3.40-4.50). At this price, it would be more expensive than the mass transit cable cars in South America, but would be considered a huge bargain if compared to other recreational cable cars in major metropolitan cities. For instance, base adult fares for the Ngong Ping 360 (Hong Kong) and the Mount Faber Cable Car (Singapore) both start at a ticket price of more than US$23.00!

Even in local terms, considering that entrance fees for “observation/sightseeing” attractions such as the London Eye (USD$28.00-34.00) and View from the Shard (USD$32.00-38.50) start at USD$28, the cable car is way more affordable. 

While London’s urban gondola isn’t perfect, the cable car’s stories of successes should be shared as much as its stories of failures. 

 



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07
Mar

2016

Sky-high Storytelling Onboard London’s Emirates Air Line

 

Contest winners listening to stories on Emirates Air Line Cable Car. Image by Transport for London.

Contest winners listening to stories on Emirates Air Line Cable Car. Image by Transport for London.

Recently we were informed of a special event happening onboard London’s Emirate Air Line Cable Car.

As part of World Book Day celebrations, three lucky kids were given the chance last week to meet famous English comedian and author Julian Clary.

Julian Clary, comedian and novelist, said: “It was a special moment to read parts of my new book The Bolds to the Rescue, in such a scenic location. All the children thoroughly enjoyed the book, which has made me even more excited for the release tomorrow.”

Steve Hook, parent of lucky winner Matthew, said that: “Matthew loves reading and is always really excited for World Book Day, so to have a storytelling experience across the Thames with a famous author was unforgettable. Julian Clary was very entertaining and Matthew can’t wait to read all of The Bolds to the Rescue.”

For us at the Gondola Project, we hearing stories like this. It once again demonstrates that cable car infrastructure is so much more than just transport.

By partnering with businesses and tastemakers, a gondola system can help create new experiences for riders while further strengthening ties with the local community.

To see more photos from this fun event, click here.

 



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25
Feb

2016

World Book Day Aboard Emirates Air Line Cable Car

Julian Clary 3

The Bolds to the Rescue. New book by Julian Clary. Image from Tfl.

What better way to encourage children to read than to hop aboard the Emirates Air Line Cable Car and listen to some tall tales by Julian Clary.

On March 2, three lucky winners will get the chance to spend some time with the famous English comedian and author.

Julian has partnered with Transport for London (Tfl) to promote his upcoming book, The Bolds to the Rescue.

To enter the competition, you will need to answer one simple question.

What animal are the Bolds?

A). Hyenas

B). Cats

C). Monkeys

Submit your answers to EALSkyHighStorytelling@tfl.gov.uk by midnight on the 28 February with your name, your child’s name and age and the best phone number to contact you on. Good luck!

 

 



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08
Feb

2016

Love is in the Air! (Again) – Emirates Air Line Cable Car

Emirates Air Line Valentines Day special. Image by Tfl.

Emirates Air Line Valentines Day special. Image by Tfl.

Looking for a way to really impress your sweetheart come this Valentines Day? Well, if you’re in London next week, the Emirates Air Line cable car will offer passengers a chance to woo their partner with a romantic experience aboard a private cabin excursion.

For just £50 per couple, you and your lovebird get roundtrip tickets, Laurent Perrier champagne, and a box of Godiva chocolates. Not too bad of a deal if you ask me.

The cable car will be gushing with romance, from playing a mixture of modern and classic lovey-dovey songs to towers being lit up in glowing pink! And in case you’re ready to take the next big step, proposing on a cable car is a surefire way to melt her heart and get her to say yes.

Spots will probably fill out quickly, so better plan ahead Romeo before tickets sell out.

TFL - Valentines 3

Infrastructure doesn’t get any more romantic than this. Image by Tfl.

 



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07
Jan

2016

Is the Emirates Air Line Cable Car a Failure?

Emirates-Air-Line

Emirates Air Lines. Image by Steven Dale.

Unfortunately, the Emirates Air Line Cable Car in London is once again attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. Most recently, a leading mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan commented that if elected, he would freeze transit fares, allow unlimited bus transfers in a one hour timeframe and terminate public funding for the aerial lift.

While this kind of statement makes for good electioneering, it’s a bit of a red herring. See, the thing is the cable car actually doesn’t receive any subsidies. In fact, as 853blog revealed in December, the cable car actually earns a profit. Since opening in June 2012, the cable car has amassed a surplus of US$1.5mm (£1mm).

Yes, this is a poor financial showing for Wall Street — but we’re not talking about Wall Street. We’re talking about transportation and public transit infrastructure and should analyze and compare this system within that fiscal context. By this measurement, the system is an unqualified success. Nearly all publicly built transportation systems in the Western world, whether it be highways, rail, buses or what not, lose vast sums of money. The Emirates Air Line, meanwhile is profitable.

Marginally so, yes, and likely wouldn’t be without the sizeable sponsorship money endowed upon it. But still, it’s profitable.

Could detractors argue that the cable car money be spent elsewhere? Of course they could. Or that the cable car was incorrectly marketed as a “commuter link” when it was clearly a Toy for Tourists? Definitely. Or perhaps they just don’t like cable cars in general? Sure why not.

But let’s not pretend the system is hemorrhaging money, because it’s not.

Despite annual operating costs of ~US$7.4mm (£5mm), the system is profitable and yet attempts to defame the system continue without end. Now some readers may accuse us of being apologists for the London Cable Car because we happen to be cable car specialists. Fair play.

But let’s remember — we were the first people to (accurately) declare this the most expensive cable car in history and predicted (also accurately) that no commuters were going to use the system. Our track record has been consistent on this system from the beginning.

Even still, Mr. Khan’s stance may be good politics, but it’s dishonest. That’s bothersome.

For us, cable cars happen to be a good idea that’s we’re pleased to see are now catching on worldwide. But as the technology spreads, there is a dire need for responsible and professional analysis that assesses the systems based on their own merits rather than one’s perceived notions of cable car technology — or whether or not you happen to be a fan of a certain Mr. Boris.

If anything, the Emirates Air Line is fascinating case study that offers many important lessons on how cities should, and should not implement urban cable cars and public infrastructure. Aspiring gondola-cities would be wise to pay attention to and learn from its successes and failures.

Given past precedence and the optics of the cable car, it is unlikely that the controversy ends here. But regardless of what happens, we’ll be as excited as anyone else to follow what other bizarre stories are uncovered in the future.

 



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Analysis / Emirates Air Line
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04
Feb

2015

Love is in the Air…Literally

All aboard lovebirds! Image by Flickr user Keith Belton.

While we’re never zealots for any transit technology, we know that cable cars are basically unmatched when it comes down to “romance and charm.”

Don’t believe me? Check out the Roosevelt Island Tram Proposal, Linea Roja Wedding and the Hochzeitsgondel (Wedding Gondola).

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Emirates Air Lines in London is looking to capitalize on the potential for mid-ride romance by partnering with MySingleFriends and the Thames Clipper for a free speed-dating event and a romantic joint-ticket package.

Judging by the attention that the idea has garnered (it looks like it may already be sold out), many hearts will be literally soaring come Valentine’s Day.



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Emirates Air Line / Just For Fun
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07
Jan

2015

Emirates Air Line: Success or Failure? It Depends

Emirates Air Line in London. Image by Flickr user snappyhopper. (Creative Commons)

Emirates Air Line in London. Image by Flickr user snappyhopper. (Creative Commons)

Over the holiday season, the British media picked up on the story that, apparently, the number of commuters on the Emirates Air Line has literally dropped to zero. Numerous publications (such as here, here, and here) argued this was evidence of the folly of the project and proof of how much of a white elephant it’s become. 

Sure. Okay. Fair enough.

The problem is that this white elephant is getting 20,000–30,000 riders every week. For those keeping track, that’s up to 1.5 million riders a year. Those aren’t white elephant numbers.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not the biggest fan of the Emirates Air Line, largely due to the fact that the capital costs of the system are so completely out-of-whack with industry norms. 

But what gets lost in this whole debate is that as a piece of tourism infrastructure, the system appears to be a success.

Read more



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