Tfl appoints Uber to run Hammersmith Bridge ferry service
30th March 2021

Tfl appoints Uber to run Hammersmith Bridge ferry service while £140m repairs are carried out – but boats won’t start taking passengers until the end of the summer

  • The firm has been handed the contract to take pedestrians and cyclists 
  • TfL said Uber Boat by Thames Clipper hopes to run crossings from 6am to 10pm 
  • But the boat service won’t start until the end of summer, likely dismaying locals 

Uber will operate a replacement ferry service while repairs to Hammersmith Bridge continue, Transport for London announced today.

The private hire firm has been handed the contract to take pedestrians and cyclists across the Thames at a proposed charge of £1.55. 

TfL said Uber Boat by Thames Clipper hopes to run crossings from 6am to 10pm and transport 800 passengers per hour on its catamaran.

But the boat service won’t start until the end of summer, likely dismaying exasperated locals who have been without a nearby crossing for almost two years.

The cost of contracting Uber Boat by Thames Clipper is also being withheld and will not be published until after the local elections in London on May 6.  

However it is believed the ferry service hinged on Government funding provided as part of the TfL bailout.

Uber will operate a replacement ferry service while repairs to Hammersmith Bridge continue to drag, Transport for London announced today

The boat service won’t start until the end of summer, likely dismaying exasperated locals who have been without a nearby crossing for almost two years (Hammersmith Bridge closed, pictured)

Since the 134-year-old west bridge was closed in summer 2019, after cracks first appeared in its pedestals, the repair works have been the subject of much wrangling between the council, TfL and the Department for Transport.

A lack of financing has been a particular issue, with Mayor Sadiq Khan lobbying ministers to front the costs. 

The Department for Transport says it ensured £4million of its bailout of TfL was ringfenced for the bridge’s repair works, which early estimates put as high as £140million.

Hammersmith Council have said the restoration costs will spiral to ‘around £100million’. 

This month they proposed a £3 toll for motorists to drive across the bridge when traffic resumes from 2022.   

TfL said that the replacement ferry service £1.55 cost is in line with bus fares and would also include a Hopper option to change transport mode for free.

It said: ‘The Hopper option will allow people who arrive at the ferry by bus to change onto the ferry at no further charge, as long as they change within an hour of starting their original journey.’

The bridge would have a ‘double-decker’ structure, with an upper level carrying cars and buses, while pedestrians and cyclists would use the lower level, the council said

Plans are for the restored bridge to have ‘double-decker’ structure, with an upper level carrying cars and buses, while pedestrians and cyclists would use the lower level, the council said.

A technical study conducted jointly by architects Foster + Partners and specialist bridge engineers COWI found it is ‘feasible’ using the existing bridge foundations.

The full restoration would be completed in 2023. The Labour-run council also said ownership of the Grade II listed bridge could be transferred to a charitable trust.

Council leader Stephen Cowan said this month: ‘Hammersmith Bridge is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world and the most expensive in Britain to repair. 

‘While we’re working to fully restore the bridge as quickly as possible, we’re also determined to put in place the necessary governance and long-term funding arrangements that will make sure it is properly maintained well into the next century.

‘We are proposing a twin-track solution which reunites maintenance funding with transport use and puts the bridge into a charitable trust.’ 

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