TFL Confirms Cable Car for 2012 Olympics

Cable Car in Rio de Janeiro. Photo by Phil Whitehouse

Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed plans to open a cable car in time for 2012 Olympics, operating 50 metres above water between the Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks. The cable car is to transport up to 5,000 passengers (cyclists and pedestrians) per hour, between the two Olympic venues (the O2 arena and ExCel exhibition centre). The duration of the trip will be approximately 5 minutes one-way, cars running every 30 seconds. According to the Guardian, the system will be privately funded, costing £25 million provided by a number of potential operators.

London Mayor Boris Johnson claims that “A cable car spanning the majestic Thames would not only provide a unique and pioneering addition to London’s skyline, but also offer a serene and joyful journey across the river”. “Passengers will be able to drink in the truly spectacular views of the Olympic Park and iconic London landmarks whilst shaving valuable minutes from their travelling time”, he continues. Johnson believes that the cable car will provide a much-needed enhancement of cross-river options to the east of the city.

Former Labour Mayor Ken Livingstone does not object to the idea, as a cable car would be a development for the area. However, he states that “what is really needed is a road bridge that would carry more commuters.” The other alternative types of river crossing , according to professors of transport, are a rail-only bridge, a new river-ferry crossing, a walk and cycle-only bridge, and a car bridge adapted to take more public transport. The professors claim that a cable car would be the most sustainable of these. The question here, however, is whether a cable car is the most realistic option? Or is this an attempt to keep up with other major cities of the world?

Barcelona, Cologne, Hong Kong, Lisbon, New York and Singapore are amongst the cities
currently employing a cable car. Does TfL feel that London is lagging behind? After the Olympics, will the public want to use the cable car as an every-day mode of transport? Not only does it sound unrealistic to think that the public will choose to “take the cable car” to work, but the route (from one place in the middle of nowhere to another) seems extremely Olympics-centred. Will the cable car be purely used as a way to impress the masses of tourists organisers claim will visit London in 2012? (In fact most host cities experience a drop in tourism during the Olympics) Quoting Tfl analysts, it certainly seems so: “A cable car would bring excitement and iconic importance, which would generate interest in tourist visits.” Let’s go fly a kite.

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Poverty 2010

MarshFarm_Purley2

It’s 2010 the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, “The fight against poverty and social exclusion is one of the EU’s central objectives and our shared approach has been an important tool to guide and support action in the Member States,” said Social Affairs Commissioner, Vladimir Pidla. “The European Year will take this even further, by raising awareness of the way poverty continues to blight the daily lives of so many Europeans.” (Press release, Europa) Let’s hope the funding is spent in a productive way so the campaign reaches the specific goals and targets which actually make an impact on peoples lives.

We kicked off 2010 with the London’s biggest public transport fare hike in history, brought in by the Mayor’s office. This action does nothing to combat poverty, decreasing the ability for low income families to manouvre around London and access the opportunities on offer.

“Underground fares will rise by an average 3.9 per cent from January, while bus fares will go up by 12.7 per cent. Boris Johnson, the mayor, said the increases were comparable to similar-sized increases in 2005 and 2006 under Ken Livingstone, his predecessor. However, since inflation is far lower than in the previous years, the coming increase is significantly higher in real terms and the largest since Transport for London took over responsibility for London’s transport network in 2000.”
(Robert Wright, Big fare rises unveiled for London, Financial Times, 10/15/09)
The richer portions of our society will not be affected by the rise but the poor portions will definitely feel the affects of the rise in their daily lives.
And finally I’d like to relay some facts taken from the Shelter website.
• 1.6 million children in Britain live in housing that is overcrowded, temporary, or run-down.
• Over 1 million children live in overcrowded housing.
• More than 90,000 homeless children in England are living in temporary accommodation.
• 4 million children in the United Kingdom live in poverty after their housing costs have been paid.

We need to take these facts very seriously because the children are our future so together through our actions assist in providing a better life for them.

It’s good to see the EU coming together to try and eradicate poverty but until the Government and society address issues that effect peoples day to day lives such as transport, housing, education and other basic needs, we can’t expect to see the inequality gap close.

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