Tfl, London Cable Car: ‘Bright future’ for service as passenger numbers above pre-pandemic figures

TfL’s head of the IFS Cable Car said key to the service’s success is understanding its role as “a visitor attraction” and “part of a day out”.
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A Transport for London (TfL) chief has lauded the “bright future” of the IFS Cable Car, after a bumper year in which passenger numbers flew past pre-Covid-19 levels.

The service, which was opened in June 2012 to enable easy transport from Greenwich to the Royal Docks in time for the London Olympics, pulled in a total of 1.5m passengers in the 2022/23 financial year, up not only on its 2021/22 figures, but also the last year pre-pandemic, when it was just-shy of 1.4m.

Josh Crompton, TfL’s head of the IFS Cloud Cable Car, told LondonWorld that the network has gone from strength to strength since it issued its first passenger ticket to Boris Johnson more than 10 years ago.

The IFS Cable Car opened in June 2012, connecting Greenwich with the Royal Docks in time for the London Olympics. Credit: LondonWorld.The IFS Cable Car opened in June 2012, connecting Greenwich with the Royal Docks in time for the London Olympics. Credit: LondonWorld.
The IFS Cable Car opened in June 2012, connecting Greenwich with the Royal Docks in time for the London Olympics. Credit: LondonWorld.

Speaking at an event in celebration of the cable car and the full opening of its new centre, complete with VR experience, Mr Crompton said the key is to understand the cable car’s dual roles; both as an activity, and as a reliable, easy way of getting across the river.

“We are a visitor attraction and we are part of a day out,” he said. “People are using us for a leisure-based activity.”

Mr Crompton added that while customers do use the cable car as a form of transport, “we do it in the most exciting way.”

“I always say the cable car is the most exciting river crossing in London.”

And one of the most essential elements fuelling that excitement? Social media.

“A lot of people do express themselves in a different way [while on the cable car]”, Mr Crompton said, “especially on social media.”

The cable car centre, which is now fully-open, includes an events space, café and VR experience. Credit: LondonWorld.The cable car centre, which is now fully-open, includes an events space, café and VR experience. Credit: LondonWorld.
The cable car centre, which is now fully-open, includes an events space, café and VR experience. Credit: LondonWorld.

‘A bright future’

Since it opened, the cable car has recorded a total of more than 15m passengers, including famous faces ranging from Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic to boxer David Haye.

The recent growth in passenger numbers is despite the service retaining some of its necessary Covid mitigations, Mr Crompton said, notably the introduction of private cabins.

Big events at the O2 Arena, such as Peter Kay in February, see numbers rise drastically, he added, with 10,000 passengers using the cable car on the day the comedian performed, a “phenomenal” figure during the winter months.

The new centre, which provides space for functions, has a cafe and a range of entertainment, including a VR experience, is an example of how the service is expanding its offering to those rising numbers, making itself a destination beyond just a travel option.

Already hosting events from Christmas to Eid and Mother’s Day, Mr Crompton said future plans, such as decking out the service’s 34 gondolas with informative screens, are hoped to further draw those looking for a novel London attraction.

“It really is a bright future,” he said, “and it really is going to be a success going forward.”

How much does the cable car cost and when is it open?

The London cable car costs are:

  • Adult - £6 single, £12 round trip
  • Child (five and over) - £3 single, £6 round trip
  • Child under five (with a paying adult) - free
  • Family ticket - £30 round trip

National railcards are not applicable on the service.

Its summer opening times (April 1 - September 30) are:

  • Monday to Thursday- 7am to 10pm
  • Friday - 7am to 11pm
  • Saturday - 8am to 11pm
  • Sunday and bank holidays - 9am to 10pm

Its winter opening times (October 1 to March 31) are:

  • Monday to Thursday - 7am to 9pm
  • Friday - 7am to 11pm
  • Saturday - 8am to 11pm
  • Sunday and bank holidays - 9am to 9pm