Embrace the Cable Car


The Emirates Air Line is not just a cable car, but has also been the reason for many high strung debates since its announcement in July 2010. With the purpose of being an alternative to the busy TFL (Transport of London), the cable car received more attention from its high building costs and from being deemed “Mayor Boris Johnson’s inaugural vanity project.” A link across the Thames River in London, the service first opened in June 2012 and is operated by Transport for London. When the service was announced, it was estimated to cost £60 million and comprises of a 1 kilometre gondola line that cross the Thames River from the Greenwich Peninsula to the ExCel London. However, it is time to let bygones be bygones and enjoy this inspired way of travel.

For one, the Emirates Air Line offers easy and quick access to parts of London. The duration of a single crossing is ten minutes and only five minutes during rush hour, as the speed is increased.  Public transport in London can be a nightmare and it is also packed, especially during rush hour. You will not find that crazy rush on the cable car. At the worst, you may find yourself sharing a gondola with a group of over joyed tourists. The view from the cable car is also much more appealing than the underground, as you will get a view of the capital during your travel. It is not as high as the London eye, reaching 90 metres, and there is still a bit of post-industrial areas in the mix, but at least you can visualize what the future of London will look like. Tickets for the cable car are pretty reasonable and offer a non-stop, round trip, on board audio tour, and free entry to the Emirates Aviation Experience exhibition. Oyster pay as you go customers will need to collect a Boarding Pass from the ticket office. The Emirates Aviation Experience offers visitors an insight into the operations and success of commercial air travel. The on board audio guide complements the journey and relays the history and hidden gems of East London, as well as the future of East London. Emirates also offers a night flight experience for those who would like to see the sunset over the capital and London’s captivating night sky.

Also, not only is London using a cable car, but so is the rest of the world. The first city to have a cable car as a form of public transport was Medellin, Colombia, then followed La Paz, Bolivia; Caracas, Venezuela; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Portland, United States. The service has proven to be energy efficient and have low emissions, both which are incredibly important to London with its high levels of air pollution. Extending the cable car will also be cheaper than extending the underground tube. It only took 10 months for the Emirates Air Line Cable Cars to be built, but could take years to extend out the tube, not including uprooting most of London to extend the underground tunnels. It can also be argued that the cable car is a better use of space. The streets of London are suffocated with congestion of motorized vehicles, bikes, and pedestrians, but the sky is empty. The Emirates Air Line can sail across the river, over backed up traffic, signal failures, roadwork, etc. True, it is susceptible to wind and could be temporary closed down, however how many times has the underground been shut down due to “adverse weather conditions?” Too many to count.

Either way, the Emirates Air Line does not seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. The cable cars are part of the regeneration of East London. There are numerous development plans going into East London right now, such as a “floating village” at Royal Docks, as well as a £1bn Advanced Business Park (ABP) development which could generate 20,000 jobs and is due to be completed in 2023. If these projects are green lighted, then the Emirates Air Line will be an important part of transport in this area. It will bring in more visitors, local investments, and attractions. Never mind the hefty sum it would cost to take away the £60m cable cars, which would most likely come out of the taxpayers’ pocket. Transport for London, as well as the Mayor of London, has made it pretty clear that the Emirates Air Line is here to stay. Now, Londoners just need reasons to travel between Royal Docks and The O2 in a few more years.

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