Transport for London (TfL) has announced Uber Boat by Thames Clippers as the successful bidder to run the temporary ferry for pedestrians and cyclists to give them an alternative route to the closed Hammersmith Bridge – but it will not come into operation until the end of the summer.
The bridge, closed to motor vehicles for nearly two years, was completely shut to all users last summer due to concerns over cracks in the Victorian structure.
The towpath under the bridge is also closed on both banks, and river traffic is banned from navigating beneath it, which together with concerns over social distancing has led to this weekend’s Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race being moved to Ely in Cambridgeshire.
The embarkation points for the ferry will be located close to Hammersmith Bridge on each side of the Thames and TfL says that “there will be a full programme of engagement with the local community and other river users ahead of any planning application being submitted.”
The minimum capacity will be 800 passengers an hour, with services operating from 06:00-22:00 each day.
According to TfL, fares are expected to be the same of those of buses at £1.55 and would be part of the Hopper scheme, so that people arriving by bus would not have to pay extra provided they embark within an hour of starting their original journey. Concessionary fares such as the Freedom Pass would also be valid.
The boats that will operate the service are Fairey Brooke Marine 'Hydrocat' high-speed catamarans, 25 metres in length.
The closure of the bridge means that local residents, including schoolchildren, need to take a lengthy detour to cross the river, with the nearest main crossing points being Putney Bridge to the east and Chiswick Bridge to the west, and the tide means the towpath can often be underwater at peak times.
The Barnes Railway Bridge, which is closer to Hammersmith than Chiswick Bridge, is another option but bikes have to be taken up and down the stairs on either side.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.