Great news, everyone! London's favourite cable car has hit a major milestone!
Since opening in June 2012, there have also been over five million passengers on the Emirates Air Line pic.twitter.com/xNUNLuFLDr
— Transport for London (@TfL) March 24, 2015
Five million people! Isn't that brilliant?
Let's put that amazing number in context, shall we?
Approximately 50,000 passengers a week use the nearby Woolwich Ferry to cross the Thames; that means that the cable car is attracting nearly 60 per cent as much traffic as that.
And if it was a bus route, it'd be London's 407th busiest! Take that, H14 from Hatch End to Northwick Park Hospital. How’s it feel to be in 408th place? Loser.
To sum all this up, here's the passenger traffic on the cable car compared to selected other transport routes in London:
Here’s another version of the chart which includes the Central Line. That’s London's busiest route, and even that only receives a mere 168 times as much traffic as the Emirates Air Line.
And it only did that well by having 49 stations and cheating by actually going to places people want to go. Watch your back, Central Line!
But we shouldn’t just think of the route itself of course: we should think of the stations, too.
Those 1.56m people each, presumably, used both Emirates Greenwich Peninsula and Emirates Royal Docks stations once each. (If they didn't, that raises some worrying questions.) That gives each of them an annual consolidated "entries + exits" figure of, yes, 1.56m.
Compare that figure with those published for the London Underground network, and you'll find that, if the cable car's two terminals were tube stations, as the tube map seems to think they are, they'd be joint 248th most popular! That’s ahead of around 20 other contenders, including such big names as Mill Hill East, Chalfont & Latimer and Upminster Bridge. Amazing.
To finish up, let's check out the long term passenger usage trends on the cable car route. Here's a graph showing average weekly passenger numbers over the past three years:
And here’s another version, this time using a 10 week rolling average, so you can see the long term trend and the effect of the seasons more clearly.
Two things jump out at you here. One is that the cable car's traffic is seasonal, hitting its peak in summer.
The other is that nearly a quarter of the people who have ever used the Emirates Air Line did so in its first three months of existence – a period which, coincidentally, included London's Olympic Games. Since then, passenger numbers have been gently, but gradually, falling.
But never mind all that on this joyous day. Congratulations, to Transport for London and the Emirates Air Line, for hitting this amazing milestone.
The Emirates Air Line cost an estimated £60m to construct and £500,000 a month to run.
*Incidentally, tube passenger figures are for 2011-12, the most recent year we could find. Given the network-wide trend towards growth, it's almost certainly an underestimate.