THE NEW cable car across the Thames opened to the public at midday today.
The Emirates Air Line takes passengers almost 300 ft into the air and across the river to the Royal Docks in about five minutes.
The price of a single trip was confirmed last week as being £3.20 when using a pay-as-you-go Oyster card and £4.30 for a cash fare.
Mayor of London Boris Johnson was in Greenwich for the official opening of the river crossing that he announced less than two years ago and which gained planning permission in January 2011.
The £60 million cable car has been sponsored by airline Emirates in a 10-year deal worth £36 million. Transport for London (TFL) said when the scheme was announced that they were aiming to "fund the scheme's construction entirely from private finance."
London mayor, Boris Johnson, told the News Shopper today that the shortfall in the development costs would be made back by "revenue, retail and merchandising."
First in the queue to use the cable car when it opened at noon were Trudy and Bob Lawrence from Roan Street. Trudy said: "It's an exciting and innovative way of crossing the river and I do like that you can take a bicycle across."
Bob added, "I'm an engineer and I think it's a great engineering feat and it's nice that we can do things like this in a city like London."
Reaction to the cable car
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson:
"The Emirates Air Line is a stunning addition to London's transport network, providing a much needed new connection across the Thames. I am sure the Emirates Air Line is now set to be a must-see destination in its own right, giving people the chance to drink in breath-taking panoramic views.
"Crucially, the Emirates Air Line supports my ambitious plans to revive the neighbouring areas, which have been neglected for decades, creating jobs for Londoners and stimulating growth."
Cllr Chris Roberts, Leader of Greenwich Council:
It's welcome news that the cable car has been completed in time for the Olympics, and it provides another way for visitors - and Londoners - to get to Greenwich. However, it is no substitute for the river crossings we need to build out economy including the Silver town tunnel to the Peninsula and Crossrail."
Nick Raynsford, MP for Greenwich and Woolwich:
I welcome the opening of the cable car. I was impressed by the ride – the views are spectacular. However, although this will undoubtedly help attract tourists and visitors to the Greenwich Peninsula, it is no substitute for the long-overdue new Thames crossing. Until we get a new tunnel between the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, and a new bridge between Becton and Thamesmead, we will continue to suffer from inadequate river crossings and the consequent congestion at Blackwall”.
Cllr Spencer Drury, Leader of Greenwich Conservatives:
"The cable car has the potential to become a serious tourist attraction which will draw even more visitors to this part of London in the long-term. The Mayor of London has once again made a serious investment which will benefit the people of Greenwich, despite the grumbling of senior Labour Councillors at the meeting this week."
Lib Dem London Assembly member, Caroline Pidgeon:
“Boris Johnson needs to come clean and explain just how much the cable car will be costing London's taxpayers. Two years ago he misled Londoners by claiming it would not cost a penny of public money, yet in reality millions of public money has poured into the project with the final figure facing taxpayers still not clear.”
Jenny Bates, Friends of the Earth:
“This cable car is exactly the sort of river crossing London needs. But plans to build new Thames road tunnels or bridges in east London must be scrapped – this would create more traffic, more congestion and more air pollution."
Sharon Grant, Chair, London TravelWatch:
"We have been following the progress of the Emirates Airline closely throughout the construction period and are delighted that the service has opened in time for The Olympics. The service offers a quick new way to get from Greenwich to the EXCEL Arena, which is likely to bring tourists into east London and open up opportunities for people who work at either of the locations it serves. We also welcome the fact that Oyster will be accepted on the Airline and that frequent users will benefit from a reduced price."
More photos from the cable car...
Video of the journey from Royal Docks to Greenwich