Users of the London Cable Car from Greenwich Peninsula will be hit with fare hikes of up to 25 per cent next month as Transport for London struggles to balance its books.
Bus passengers will pay 10p more per trip from March 1 – a 6.5 per cent increase to £1.65 – as part of the package of hikes announced this morning.
Tube, DLR and rail users will generally face lower increases – with daily fare caps increasing by between 3.5 and 4.1 per cent – but some single fares will go up by as much as 11 per cent.
London mayor Sadiq Khan, who froze many of his fares for the first four years of his time in office, said he had been forced into the increases because the Westminster government “refuses to properly fund TfL”.
TfL lost its annual grant from the government under Boris Johnson’s mayoralty, making it largely dependent on fare income – in contrast to other world cities, where public transport is heavily subsidised.
But Johnson’s business model was shattered by the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent growth in people working from home, and TfL is existing on a series of short-term bailouts while its long-term future is thrashed out by Khan and Grant Shapps, the transport secretary.
The target of the highest rises is one of Johnson’s legacies to the capital – the Emirates Air Line, which is likely to be renamed in the coming months as its original sponsorship deal with the Middle East carrier comes to an end.
While it sees just a handful of regular commuters each day, the cable car to the Royal Docks has proved a popular tourist attraction. Last August, it was used for up to 60,000 journeys a week – the most crowded it had been for about nine years, although only a third as busy as it was during the 2012 Olympics.
Cash fares for tourists were hiked 50p to £5 last year, and they go up £1 this year to £6 – a 20 per cent increase. Return tickets are also being removed – forcing users to get off and pay again if they want to make a round trip.
But Londoners with Oyster and contactless will be hit with the biggest hike – up 25 per cent from £4 to £5.
TfL says the change will bring in £1.4 million in extra revenue each year – something that will be needed as any new sponsorship agreement is unlikely to be as lucrative as the £36m Emirates agreed to pay a decade ago.
Regular users can avoid the hikes by paying £17 for an annual 10-trip boarding pass – this little-publicised fare is frozen, perhaps with an eye on GLA staff who now use the cable car to commute to the new City Hall, next to the Royal Victoria Dock.
In an even less-publicised perk for regular users, cyclists can use the cable car for nothing in the morning rush hour.
While bus fares are up to £1.65, the daily bus fare cap will also increase by 6.5 percent, to £4.95.
Overall, TfL fares are going up by 4.8 per cent, compared with 3.8 per cent on National Rail services – slightly closing the gap between the two systems’ fares that widened during the years of Khan’s fares freeze, although large anomalies remain. It will be £1 cheaper to travel to Whitechapel on the Elizabeth Line from Woolwich off-peak than it will be to go from Woolwich Arsenal to Deptford on National Rail.
The all-day fare cap for zones 1 and 2 goes up 30p to £7.70; for zones 1-3 by 30p to £9.
For zones 1-4, the cap goes up 40p to £11; providing a strong incentive for many passengers in areas such as Woolwich and Eltham to save £3.30 a day by travelling by bus to North Greenwich, where the zone 2 fare applies.
Sample Oyster fare increases
Zone 1-2 TfL (eg, North Greenwich to Green Park)
Off-peak £2.60 (up 10p), peak £3.20 (up 20p)
Zone 1-2 rail (Greenwich to Blackfriars)
Off-peak £2.80, peak £3.30 (both up 10p)
Zone 1-3 rail (Charlton to Charing Cross)
Off-peak £3.10, peak £4.00 (both up 10p)
Zone 2 TfL (Lewisham to Canary Wharf by DLR)
Off-peak £1.60, peak £1.80 (both up 10p)
Zone 2-3 rail/TfL (Westcombe Park to Canary Wharf)
Off-peak £2.60, peak £3.00 (both up 10p)
Zone 1-4 rail (Plumstead to Cannon Street)
Off-peak £3.40 (up 10p), peak £4.60 (up 20p)
Zone 1-4 TfL (Woolwich Arsenal to Bank by DLR)
Off-peak £2.90 (up 20p), peak £4.00 (up 30p)
Zone 2-4 rail (Woolwich Arsenal to Deptford)
Off-peak £2.80, peak £3.40 (both up 10p)
Zone 2-4 TfL (Woolwich to Whitechapel by Elizabeth line)
Off-peak £1.80 (up 20p), peak £2.70 (up 20p)
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