Why is the Greenwich Cable Car not seeing more users?

OK, so before I begin, arguments over the Dangleway and Boris Johnson have been done a million times. It’s here, it exists and so this post is not going to go over that but look at usage number since opening seven years ago.

Many new flats near the cable car

What I’m intrigued with is why passenger numbers are not rising at all. So far this year according to TfL data user numbers are no better than any other year since construction. In fact they are the worst yet despite numerous projects on each side of the Thames. I’m not talking commuter use as that was never going to see much use but leisure.

New shopping centre – not a great success

Over the past year numerous developments would have been expected to bring more people to the area who you may imagine would be inclined to jump on for the views if nothing else.

On the south of the Thames we’ve had a new elevated walkway open in Greenwich, an expanded cinema at the o2 (now the biggest in London), a new shopping centre (granted, it’s not a great success so far), numerous new flats complete and becoming occupied along with various other events and festivals.

North of the Thames has seen a floating hotel opened, new high rise blocks of flats complete and other regular events.

Now, one may have expected at least a small increase in leisure use but there’s been nothing. Month on month are admittedly precarious and prone to events but lets look at May and June over the past few years:

2019: 110k trips

2018: 110k trips

2017: 110k trips

2016: 110k trips

By this stage I was wondering if someone is just cutting and pasting on a Friday afternoon before they knock off work, but no, wait…

2015: 120k trips

2014: 130k trips

2013: 140k trips

If we look at the first quarter this year is the worst on record.

I know the cable car is much maligned but it’s a decent little trip and offers great views. At £3.50 for adults and £1.70 for children it’s not a great expense if visiting the area for a day out.

Why is it not appealing to tourists? I’ve read all the arguments about views of scrapyards, which is true if you only look directly down of course. Look up and the view is stunning over London.

So anyway, I guess this is a bit of a post in support of the thing. It was never a commuter solution and that argument was rubbish and a tokenistic Boris trick.

Yet it appears many don’t agree with me. It’s just not pulling in the punters.




Adverts are far from enough to cover site costs and my rent.

You can support me via Paypal here

Another option is via Patreon by clicking here

You can also buy me a beer/coffee at Ko-fi here

There's also a Facebook page for the site here

Many thanks

J Smith

I've lived in south east London most of my life growing up in Greenwich borough and working in the area for many years. The site has contributors on occasion and we cover many different topics. Living and working in the area offers an insight into what is happening locally.

19 thoughts on “Why is the Greenwich Cable Car not seeing more users?

    • Agreed, but maybe people just don’t fancy dangling over open water no matter how briefly.

      • Not to mention, there’s a quicker and cheaper route via the underground if you legitimately need to get across the river.

    • Same can be said about London Eye but I prefer cable car:)

  • Aw, I miss that simpler riverside walk. I think they cut down that tree you see in the distance on the far left of the top photo – shame. It seems they’ve spent alot of money on what was already the best part of the riverside walk between maritime Greenwich and the ferry. It’s the rest that needs improving!

    Sorry, all that’s nothing to do with the cable car which I love the look of but just haven’t been on yet. The ride isn’t a big enough draw and there’s not much to do on the other side.

    On this side the elevated walkway is a bit rubbish (is the 5km running track no longer happening?), the shopping centre was empty when I visited a couple weeks ago and I’m not sure all those towers are occupied yet.

  • Why would it be of interest to tourists ? There are no reasons tourists would want to head in that direction either way. It makes no sense, a white elephant.

    • Been to Barcelona? Porto? Both have very popular cable cars. People love views hence plethora of related tourist attractions worldwide. And a return trip? Heading there then DLR/Tube back to hotel?

      • I’ve been on the Barcelona one which goes to the lovely botanical gardens.

        I’ve only been on the Emirates cable car because my kid loves it. As an adult though, you’re going from a temporary-not-temporary-tent-from-2000, over some industrial units by the river, to the other side for some ‘executive’ flats and a DLR station to get the hell out of there.

        Boris’s reality distortion field is more powerful than Steve Jobs’ was to make this useless thing happen.

  • It would be better utilised if it were promoted as part of a self guided tour. Someone should devise a circuit, or spur, that would catch some points of interest.
    Maybe a ride up river on the Thames Clipper, or Water Taxi, a ride or round trip on the Emirates Airline, and may a DLR ride to Stratford for shopping?
    I don’t know, but it seems like more could be done.

  • Might be because when asked how much it is, they say it is around £10. Happened to us 2 months ago, asked the lady how much would two adults tickets be if we already are in travel card mode with our bank cards, and didn’t even get an answer (maybe she didn’t understand?) at the end, after re-phrasing it 3 times, we got the answer: it is £10…..

  • I agree ithe cable cars may see better usage if they were to be promoted more. They are a bit like the new Icon Shopping Centre at the 02. They are there but a lot people still do not know they exists.

    Are they mentioned on Greenwich Tourist information leaflets along with other attractions and places of interest ?

  • In winter the cars are cold and the windows are often filthy. While there’s some things to see in the Canning Town side there’s no sense of majesty or grandeur – you’re not sailing above anything impressive or streets filled with happy colourful tourists, but crossing ons relatively unimportant part of town to another. I hope that it doesn’t go the way of the Beckham Academy but the few times I’ve taken my wife there I’ve found it a short and underwhelming experience, certainly nothing to be savoured.

  • Simply too expensive at £4.50 for basically crossing the river…

  • It goes from no place to no place and the views over London are too far away from anything of interest to be worth the price. If you are not going to the O2 for a conference or a concert, there is simply no reason to go there. A complete waste of money.

  • If we could use our travel cards on it I think it would get more airtime.

  • That’s a lie I went with my 3 children and had to pay around £17 and they told me that was a discount!? I must have been ripped off. I also got off the cable car feeling very sick. Never again

    • I walked past on the weekend and took a pic of the price list near the ticket office. £3.50 one way for adults and £1.70 for a child. Will upload it when I get a chance though the same is on their website. Sounds like staff giving inaccurate responses and charges

  • It’s just in the wrong place: the views aren’t particularly impressive (the closer, the drearier) and there’s nothing worthwhile at the other end whichever way you go.

    It should be relocated to somewhere more exciting and useful. How about the Walkie Talkie to Tate Modern? The queues would be massive at all times !

  • This isn’t Field of Dreams. You can’t just build it and expect everyone will come. They’ve not found a formula that works yet, but the O2 is awful – they need more indie shops, museums, children-friendly entertainment and stuff that is on available there, so it acts as a draw.
    I’ve been a few times with my kids but you can’t make a day out of it as it is, and when we have so many fantastic museums (Maritime, Docklands, Planetarium) on our doorstep, it doesn’t even make top 10.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.