Transport for London (TfL) has denied that it intends to sell the Emirates Air Line cable car after the capital’s transport commissioner was reported as stating that he would be prepared to do so.
The news comes as TfL faces having its £700m government grant withdrawn this year and a £1bn operating deficit next year, compounded by falling revenues on the Undergound and mayor Sadiq Khan fare freeze promise.
In an interview with the Evening Standard on Friday, Mike Brown also suggested that the Santander cycle hire scheme might close.
Both projects are closely associated with former mayor Boris Johnson.
The Evening Standard reported that TfL would ‘absolutely’ be prepared to sell the cable car across the Thames, once it had paid back capital receipts on the project in 2021. It pointed out that the £36m, 10-year sponsorship deal agreed with Emirates will expires at that time.
A TfL spokesperson said: ‘We expect the Emirates Air Line to continue to cover operating costs and contribute towards its original constructions costs over the next five years. In the longer-term we remain open to all options.
‘As it stands, the cable car remains a useful part of London’s transport network and continues to be popular with visitors to the capital. More than nine million customers have enjoyed journeys on it since it opened in 2012.’
The paper said that Mr Brown had also raised the prospect of phasing out the ‘Boris bike’ hire scheme, if it had fulfilled its primary role of getting more Londoners cycling.
He said: ‘It still fills a very important role but we have to keep this under review.’
The Evening Standard said the decision would rest on the popularity of alternative dockless bike hire schemes and whether TfL feels it can continue to justify the cost, which was £21m last year, of which TfL paid £3.6m.
Subsequently Will Norman, London's Walking & Cycling Commissioner, tweeted that there were 'no plans' to phase out the scheme.
Mr Brown also denied that TfL faced a financial crisis despite heading for a £1bn operating deficit. He said: ‘I’m very confident that we have a credible budget going forward.’