More Investment in River Bus Services from Putney

Plans unveiled to double Thames passenger journeys by 2020


Putney River Commuters Up In Arms

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TfL’s ‘River Action Plan’ sets out the improvements that will be made to river services over the next seven years that aim to ensure the most is made of the transport potential of the waterway..

For Putney residents this should mean faster and more frequent services with Oyster accepted for the first time together with real time boat information will be introduced at Putney Pier and the pier at WRQ from 2 April.

River bus services from Putney will more than double following the appointment of KPMG Thames Clippers as the new operator of the Putney to Blackfriars route.

Thames Clippers say they will offer faster journey times and more frequent river bus services with two thirds more services on weekdays on modern, fully accessible, high speed catamarans. The full timetable will be published in the near future.

Thames Clippers will bring Oyster to the route, as they accept Pay as You Go and offer a reduced fare to passengers with Travelcards. For regular passengers there is a range of competitive season tickets available on a weekly, monthly, half yearly and yearly basis. In order to make the route fully accessible, essential improvement work is to be carried out on a number of piers on the route, partially funded by Wandsworth Council.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “The River Thames played a major part in the success of a momentous 2012 and I am determined to capitalise on these achievements and safeguard the river’s central role in the future achievements of our great city. That is why I have set a target to increase passenger journeys on the Thames to 12 million a year by 2020 and to maximise its potential for high quality river travel with the building of new piers and even better facilities.”

The councillors for Thamesfield welcomed the news telling
"With ever increasing pressure on public transport, we greatly welcome the expansion on river services in more frequent, modern Thames Clippers throughout the day. Residents will have the added bonus of Oyster PAYG on river trips from and to Putney Pier and Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier."

Richard Tracey Assembly Member for Wandsworth & Merton & Mayor's Ambassador for River Transport said:" This is a major advance for river transport for which I have been campaigning with my colleagues on both sides of the river for 5 years. We are now clearly opening up the western reaches in our area also with the support for the new pier at Plantation Wharf and the prospect at Battersea Power Station which developers and residents also greatly support"

The Putney /Blackfriars river commuter route has been serviced for the last 7 years by the ‘Henley’ and the ‘Viscount ‘both of which are both operated by Complete Pleasure Boats (CPB).

Owner of CPB Captain Ed Langley said: "This is a very sad day for CPB. We have worked hard to develop the Putney /Blackfriars commuter route over the last 7 years from scratch . In fact I launched the route with the Henley in the wake of the 7/7 bombings to provide a safe and reliable commuter service from Putney to Blackfriars . We carried one passenger on the first day and now we regularly carry over 70 passengers on the 0730 service which is a terrific achievement for a small company like CPB . We have created both substantial goodwill and very loyal commuters by providing a fantastic service (including free tea and coffee and toast) which sadly others will now be able to build on. I think it is important that this achievement is recognized . In addition I have environmental concerns. The Henley may be the oldest boat on the river on daily service (she was built in 1896 for the Thames ) but remains one of the most environmentally friendly boats on the river and has low wash. This is important particularly for Putney residents where rowers are very sensitive to the amount of wash from commuter boats and I am concerned to see whether the new service by Clippers will meet the requirements of both the environmental lobby and the rowing fraternity."

He continued: " I know from our commuters that we have created a ‘way of life’ for many people and not just a journey to work and this decision, I suspect, will be a blow to many in spite of the increased frequency of the service-and of course to our hard working and loyal crews most of whom have worked on the river for many years . I would like to take this opportunity of thanking our commuters for their loyal and enthusiastic custom over the years. In light of this decision CPB will now consider its options and is keen to continue to provide regular services on the Thames with its boats- in whatever way may be possible and taking into account the Mayor’s wish to increase river traffic on the Thames which we endorse wholeheartedly . For example, if at all possible we would be very happy to continue to run alongside Clippers if our commuters would like us to do so"

Long time user of the service and Putney resident, Fiona Nicolson, commented: "I completely agree with the Mayor that the river should be better utilized but it seems to me a great shame that Complete Pleasure Boats has become a casualty of this strategy . CPB , as a small company, has built a unique service over the years which many of us will truly miss. In my view (which I suspect is shared by many commuters ) the combination of exceptionally friendly and skilled crews, the service onboard and the camaraderie amongst passengers on the boats has resulted in a journey to work which is truly unique and which many of us look forward to every day -and how often can you say that about a commute in London? The Henley and the Viscount are part of London’s heritage and it will be such a shame if they will no longer be involved in everyday service . I really hope there is a way to make sure that commuters have a choice and can continue to use these boats going forward."

Wandsworth Council’s transport spokesman Cllr Russell King said: This council has approved planning applications for two new piers in Wandsworth which would open up the service to more riverside communities. We will continue to work with the developers of see that these schemes are brought forward as soon as possible.

“We are also anticipating that a new boat operator will soon be appointed to run the Putney to Blackfriars service. This could mean a much more frequent timetable and faster journey times into Zone One.”

February 25th 2013