June 20 2013 Latest news:
Melissa York, Reporter
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Transport for London (TfL) faced criticism last week over the cost of the Thames cable car opening to the public today, Thursday.
From midday today, passengers will be able to take the Emirates Air Line 1.1km across the river from the Royal Docks to Greenwich seven days a week.
But the scheme has recently come under fire from Greater London Assmebly Member John Biggs and Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, who claim the cost of building the cable car project was too heavy on the public purse.
In a response to Caroline Pidgeon in December, the Mayor revealed that £36 million had been achieved in sponsorship, equating to 80 per cent of the building cost of the scheme which he said was a “good deal for Londoners”.
Ms Pidgeon remains unsatisfied, commenting “millions of public money has poured into the project with the final figure facing taxpayers still not clear.”
Mr Biggs said: “The sponsors have got an exceptionally good deal out of the Mayor, it’s a shame he didn’t push them harder and get a better deal for Londoners.”
A spokesman for TfL said they provided the upfront costs for the Emirates Air Line and, while Emirates had recouped a “significant portion” of the costs, they were pursuing an alternate funding strategy from a range of sources including third party funding, sponsors, and retail rental income to cover the rest of the costs.
TfL are awaiting a decision on funding from the European Regional Development Fund to cover ‘the majority’ of the build costs of the scheme.
Travel charges also faced criticism as it was revealed a single fare boarding pass on Oyster will cost £3.20 (child £1.60), a “360 degree tour* will cost £6.40, and frequent flyer boarding passes would cost £16 for 10 journeys but passengers with Travelcards and other Oyster cards including Freedom Passes were exempt.
A spokesman for TfL pointed out that Thames Clipper services and Barclays Cycle Hire bikes also operate outside the Travelcard, adding the “fares package has been designed to make it affordable for local people.”
Ms Pidgeon said: “Why should local people with a Zone 3 weekly, monthly or yearly Travelcard be charged for using this service?
“And how many people are really going to use this service as opposed to their normal mode of transport?”