GREENWICH'S £60m cable car opened its doors to the public today, with Boris Johnson insisting it was value for money.

The Emirates Air Line takes five minutes to whisk passengers from the Greenwich peninsula across the river to the ExCel centre in east London' Royal Docks.

At the opening, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who pushed the scheme through, said he felt "like Yuri Gagarin" after riding it.

He said: "This was the fastest way way to build a new overground crossing east of Tower Bridge.

"It's also a simply beautiful way to travel. Don't take it from me, get on board yourselves. Get a ticket now."

Around £44m in funding has been secured, with Emirates pledging £36m in a ten-year deal. However, the overall cost is estimated to be £60m, and Mr Johnson said the shortfall would be made up from "revenue, retail and merchandising".

Asked if he had just overseen the most expensive cable car system in the world, he replied: "It's worth every penny."

Operating from 7am to 9pm, the service can transport 2,500 people per hour, something the mayor said was equivalent to a new bus route.

The ride offers some a unique vantage point of the capital, particularly of the peninsula itself, while sights like the Thames Barrier, the Shard and even Woolwich's Olympic venue are visible from on high.

But the mayor insisted it was an important transport link, not just a tourist attraction.

He said: "What this does is hook up two growth areas of London.

"It will boost growth and jobs in this part of the city for a long time to come."

Fares cost £3.20 with an Oyster or £4.30 cash for an adult, children go for £1.60, and it is £6.40 for a return journey. Packs of 10 tickets cost £16.