It’s interesting to watch London tentatively come back to life, with updates on which tube stations are going to be open again, and news that we all have to use our Oyster cards on buses again. But all of that pales into insignificance against the announcement that that bit of infrastructural awesomeness that is the Thames Clippers service will be running again from Monday June 15.
The riverboats stopped plying their routes from Putney in the west to Woolwich in the east back at the beginning of lockdown in March. Before they stopped, the Clippers ran every 20 minutes and the fleet carried 4.3 million passengers in 2019. Although a relatively minor part of the capital’s transport network, it is arguably its most civilised: uncrowded, bike-friendly and the only one that actively supports the occasional commuter tipple (lots of the boats have bars on board). Plus you can sit outside and watch the sunset and suchlike.
The restart of the service is accompanied by a raft of new precautionary measures, including contactless payment, socially distanced queues on piers and boats, fewer seats, improved airflow through the boats and regular disinfecting. To attract passengers who might not live or work within walking distance of the river, there will be additional capacity for bikes on board (up to 20). Bars will be open, but takeaway only and contactless.
In a recent survey, 46 percent of regular river commuters said they had ‘concerns over getting ill on other forms of transport’. As a comparison, London Underground has reduced its passengers-per-square-metre density to 1.3, from between 5 and 7 (or about 30 on the Central line at 6pm). Under the new measures, Thames Clippers’ passenger density will be just 0.85 at full capacity. You’ll still have to wear a face mask, mind you.
It’s time to welcome back London’s best way to travel. See you on the poop deck.
Find more info on services, fares and safety at www.thamesclippers.com.
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