HIGH winds have helped Boris Johnson's £60m Greenwich cable car to a new low - as weekly passenger numbers plunged below 20,000 for the first time.

The most recent statistics released by Transport for London (TfL) show only 15,996 people used the crossing, which links the peninsula with the Royal Docks across the river, in the week ending January 26.

It means the Emirates Air Line, which sees its highest usage at weekends and closes during strong winds, took a daily average of just 2,285 over that week - less than half of its hourly 5,000 capacity.

Back in October, News Shopper highlighted how passenger numbers on the Emirates Air Line, dismissed by critics when it opened as a tourist attraction rather than a proper transport link, nosedived after the Olympic Games.

And, despite a recent high of 45,193 passengers in the week ending January 5, TfL statistics show numbers have otherwise not surpassed 21,130 this month with similarly low figures for December.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group Caroline Pidgeon said the figures showed "a consistent downward trend".

She said: "It is time for the mayor and TfL to face up to the facts that few people see little point in regularly using the cable car under its current fare structure.

"Having poured so much public money into the scheme the mayor must now ensure it operates as an integral form of public transport.

"A good start would be to ensure people with a relevant Travelcard are not charged again for using a publicly funded transport scheme."

"Exceeded our targets"

TfL's Head of the Emirates Air Line Danny Price said: “The Emirates Air Line has been built to support regeneration in east London and if it was at full capacity now there would be serious concerns about how it could carry the future population growth we expect in that area.

"As with all new transport links, the number of regular users builds over time as people become familiar with new journey possibilities.

"The number of journeys made on the Emirates Air Line has already exceeded the first year target after only four months and current passenger numbers are in line with TfL’s forecasts.”


Weekly cable car statistics

22 September 2012 - 47,604

29 September 2012 - 31,721 

6 October 2012 - 42,617 

13 October 2012 - 41,275 

20 October 2012 - 42,463 

27 October 2012 - 33,023 

3 November 2012 - 70,704

10 November 2012 - 34,885 

17 November 2012  - 34,533

24 November 2012 - 30,667 

1 December 2012 - 25,266 

8 December 2012 - 29,340 

15 December 2012 - 20,600 

19 December 2012 - 22,904 

22 December 2012 - 21,794 

29 December 2012 - 22,904 

5 January 2013 - 45,192 

12 January 2013 - 21,130

19 January 2013 - 20,753

26 January 2013 - 15,996