Thames cable car commuters take off

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Commuting by cable car came to the UK yesterday as a River Thames crossing with a difference opened to the public.

The Emirates Air Line, a £44m cable car system spanning the Thames in London, was officially launched by London mayor Boris Johnson.

Ahead of the public opening, Mr Johnson rode one of the cable cars, which will whisk passengers almost 300ft above the river between Greenwich, by the 02 Arena in south London, and the Royal Docks, by the ExCel exhibition centre to the north.

Each car provides 360-degree views taking in the City, Canary Wharf, historic Greenwich, the Thames Barrier and the Olympic Park.

Emerging at Greenwich after his crossing, Mr Johnson said: “Get on this cable car immediately. It’s beautiful, worth every penny and a stunning piece of engineering.”

He added that the new system would provide a much-needed connection across the Thames and become “a must-see destination in its own right”.

The system is sponsored by Dubai-based airline Emirates, which has contributed £36m to the project in a 10-year deal.

The system can carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction and will operate every day.

It will cost £3.20 for a single fare for those using Oyster cards, while adults paying by cash will have to fork out £4.30. There will also be special “frequent flyer” deals for regular users.

By the time the facility opened to the public at noon, queues of customers had built up in the warm sunshine.

First in line to take a trip was Greenwich resident Matt Jarvis, who had been waiting for several hours. “It looks amazing,” said Mr Jarvis, a writer.

Former company director Maurice Bennett, 79, from Hampstead, north west London, said: “I think it’s brilliant and it’s the shape of transport to come.”

By the time the first fare-paying passengers climbed aboard the cars, they were able to enjoy almost perfect conditions.