When Boris Johnson opted to build a cable car linking two of the less traveled places in the east London docks, eyebrows were raised. After the then-mayor’s pet project opened for the 2012 Olympics, the controversial sale of naming rights to the new Emirates Air Line at least stemmed the losses.
Now, however, that lucrative deal is about to run out – and no sponsor can be found to step in, even at a fraction of the price.
However, with cash-strapped capital dependent on emergency government support to keep its tubes and buses running since Covid hit, Transport for London (TfL) bosses have been under no illusions about the fact that now is not the time to abandon the Prime Minister’s unwanted cable car. .
Last year TfL’s commercial teams sent out invitations everywhere to find a successor sponsor to Emirates, hoping for less than a quarter of the £3.6million paid by the cash-rich Gulf airline over the course of the last decade.
But not a single company – not even the payday loan companies represented by agencies – took the bargain-basement opportunity to associate its brand with the service linking the Greenwich Peninsula to Royal Victoria Dock, 1,100 miles away. meters.
Last week, after a submission deadline passed Tuesday without a single expression of interest, TfL officially ended the search for a sponsor, leaving a potential multi-million drain on capital.
According to a well-placed source, senior TfL executives sent a message last week: “Storm Eunice was our last hope. Unfortunately for TfL, while high winds ripped a hole in the nearby Millennium Dome, the cable car remained unscathed.
Mayor Sadiq Khan has been forced to raise bus and tube fares, and TfL has been ordered to make £400million in savings and boost central government revenue, as part of of a series of funding settlements, including a short term of £200m. agreement reached on Friday.
Nevertheless, the “dangleway” is destined to survive, at least as long as Khan’s predecessor survives Downing Street. Johnson argued that the Emirates Air Line, which cost around £60million to build, would create thousands of jobs and be a valuable addition to the transport network.
At one point, however, it was revealed that it was only used by four regular commuters, Freedom of Information requests showed.
Many tourists have since Instagrammed their trip and over 13 million journeys have been made in its lifetime, roughly the same number of journeys made in three normal days on the metro.
Emirates Air Line briefly appeared to have an important transport function when it offered free travel to key workers who needed to travel to ExCeL London-based Nightingale Hospital at the start of the pandemic in 2020, although the hospital has been mothballed for lack of use.
He will have new customers ahead of him as London’s alarming finances have forced the Mayor to relocate City Hall itself, which is being moved next to Tower Bridge to the Crystal development near the Eastern Terminal of the cable car.
The Department of Transport said any decision on the cable car’s future rests with the mayor.
TfL said it would look to “other market engagement methods” to find a sponsor. Josh Crompton, TfL’s Cable Car Manager, said: “We know our customers love the unique experience and spectacular views the cable car provides…We remain committed to building on the cable car’s success with a new partner more late this year.”