TfL urged to improve ‘half-hearted’ approach to expanding river services

Published on Friday, 24 February 2012 10:25
Written by Scott Buckler

The Mayor’s ambition to see passenger journeys on the Thames hit 12 million a year may be thwarted by the lack of a clear strategy, poor integration with other transport services and TfL’s half-hearted commitment to river services, a new report says today

Despite some improvements since the Transport Committee’s previous review of river services, today’s update report shows travel by river remains a poor relation to other transport modes.

Passenger numbers have increased but the Committee believes the potential for further growth is hampered by the absence of a clear strategic plan to drive improvements.  While the Mayor’s River Concordat has brought the key players together, river services lack a specific representative on the TfL Board and actual delivery has been patchy.

Problems with poorly maintained or underdeveloped piers persist; mapping and ticketing is not properly integrated; and river services have not received the active support from TfL that has been so instrumental in boosting the popularity of modes like the cycle hire scheme.

Caroline Pidgeon AM, Chair of the Transport Committee, said:

While there have been some developments and passenger numbers have grown, it’s frustrating that progress is so slow on expanding a service that has so much potential – particularly for the 2012 Games.

“Our last report described the Thames as London’s forgotten highway and unfortunately in many ways it still is.

“It’s all a bit half-hearted.  If Transport for London were to direct the same attention and energy at river services that it’s lavished on the cycle hire scheme it could turn the tide.”

The report calls for action in four specific areas to help increase the number of passenger journeys:


  • There should be a TfL owned strategic plan for the development of river services.
  • TfL should demonstrate greater commitment to river services, including appointing a specific representative to its Board.
  • There should be further improvements to piers.
  • There needs to be better publicity, signage, mapping and ticketing to attract more passengers.

TfL is asked to report back to the Committee on progress on improving piers; the development of a strategic plan; appointing a river services champion to the TfL Board; plans to focus on the river during the 2012 Games; and better marketing and ticketing, by June 2012.

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