WORKING 9-5: Average British commuter spends £48k on travel in a lifetime

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via SWNS digital

The average British commuter will spend around GBP £48,000 (USD $60211) of the course of a lifetime, just on travelling to their workplace, a recent survey of 2,000 commuters in the U.K. has discovered.

The figure is not surprising to many observers. Britain has some of the highest transport fares in Europe, with many tickets around ten times their European equivalent. In addition, the average Briton will also spend up to a year of their life on the commute, assuming they work for 47 years of their lifespan. The survey showed that 68 per cent drive to work, 11 per cent take the train and eight per cent get to the workplace via bicycle or motorcycle.

 

 

Interestingly, the survey also picked up the fact that a third of the £48,000 figure will be spent on snacks, refreshments and other items consumed or used during the journey, especially for those on long commutes.

The research was commissioned by the motorcycle insurance company Lexham. The firm’s head of sales and marketing, Andy Goodson, commented: While many commuters think their journeys to and from work are barely worth considering, the amount of time we spend on them shows we should give them a bit more thought.

“With an average commute time of almost an hour a day, for many Brits this is wasted time as they’re stuck behind the wheel in traffic.

“Some of the happiest respondents in our survey were ones who were able to walk to work – giving themselves the shortest commute possible.”

The average journey on a commute is seven miles (eleven kilometres) long, which means over a working life, commuters will have clocked up 171,080 miles (275,327 km) going to and fro from the office or work site – the equivalent of circumnavigating the Earth more than six times. Those who drive to work suffered the highest stress levels, according to the Lexham research, with biking the least likely to leave people grumpy when they arrive at their desks. Sixty-two per cent of commuters told researchers that a bad journey to work would wreck the rest of their day.

Over the course of their working life, the average commuter will read 67 books, 2248 newspapers and listen to 3617 albums.

They will also send 1710 work emails, consume 977 bananas and play 2,077 gaming sessions on their phones.

Andy Goodson said: “One of the best ways to make your commute happier is to cut down how long it is.

“Motorbikes and scooters are a convenient way to bring down your commuting time, as they can beat traffic so easily.

“Nobody wants to have their day made any more stressful than it needs to be – and sitting in traffic, other commuters’ personal hygiene and constantly late trains definitely don’t help.”

 

A LIFETIME OF COMMUTING IN NUMBERS:

Distance travelled: 171,080 miles
Amount spent: £48,708.92
Time spent: 10,998 hours
Days late to work: 1906
Newspapers read: 2248
Coffees bought: 1759
Games played on phone: 2077
Social events planned: 1710
Albums listened to: 3617
Bananas eaten: 977

 

SOURCE/IMAGE CREDIT: 
“Brits Spend £48k Over A Lifetime – Just To Get To Work” – digitalhub/SWNS digital/72Point (2 April 2017) http://www.swnsdigital.com/2017/04/brits-spend-48k-over-a-lifetime-just-to-get-to-work/
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LONDON UNDERGROUND: Getting deep under the skin of the UK’s capital

London, UNITED KINGDOM
VIJAY SHAH via Londonist

 

(c) Londonist

A major city, a former industrial metropolis, with a population of eight million, London has become famous for its high-rise buildings filling the air. The Shard, the Gherkin, the Walkie Talkie, it is a hangglider’s veritable nightmare. But less of a thought is given to the city’s growth in the opposite direction. Famed for its Underground trains, many of which run deep below the busy roads, homes, offices and tourist attractions of the city, London has plenty of other subterranean secrets too, as explored recently by local online magazine Londonist.

The clay and soil beneath London’s mean streets are home to a bewildering number of tunnels, obsolete Tube stations, bunkers and basements of all sorts. It is pretty much a subterranean maze below Londoners’ feet, and enough to rival the mass of roads, walkways and cycle paths above ground. The average London sewer is only four feet under our feet, while the Lee Tunnel, which runs under East Ham and Stratford in east London and stores and runs out effluent and sewage from the Abbey Mills Pumping Station, is the deepest at around 60-70 metres. There is even a mail rail for letters used by Royal Mail which moves parcels and birthday cards around unhindered at a depth of 21 metres. Probably too much for Postman Pat. His cat would turn out completely black from all the soot, we reckon.

Other down-below surprises include deep-level emergency shelters (30m down), the London Power Tunnels, which help keep the capital’s electricity flowing at 35m, and the new Crossrail service, which chugs around happily at a depth of 25 metres. The city is also home to secret tunnels, underground passageways and bunkers, many built by the government during the war years. Add to that the forty or so disused Underground stations such as Down Street, Aldwych and others, some which may be converted into underground shopping centres if plans get the go-ahead.

Sadly, as much as London is a city of firsts, the deepest human-made structure is not directly underneath your local boozer or primary school. If you consider true depth, then that accolade goes to the SG-3 borehole in Russia, part of the greater Kola Superdeep borehole. SG-3 was excavated by the Soviets in the far eastern Kola peninsula between 1970-1989 in a test to see how far humans could go beneath the surface.

Londonist writer and illustrator Matt Brown has produced a special infographic with a distinct city vibe, that visually explains the different underground features, and has also assembled an informative guide to many of these earthly delights, featuring Wikipedia articles, official websites and the magazine’s own exclusive video ‘Secrets’ of many of London’s grandest tunnels. You can view all these at the Londonist article in the Sources section of this blogpost.

SOURCES:
Londonist, Facebook, Facebook Inc. https://www.facebook.com/Londonist-18658326042/?fref=ts
“How Deep Does London Go?” – Matt Brown (M@), Londonist/Londonist Ltd. (27 October 2015) http://londonist.com/2015/10/how-deep-does-london-go?utm_content=buffer158a2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#
“Kola Superdeep Borehole” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kola_Superdeep_Borehole
IMAGE CREDIT:
“How Deep Does London Go?” – Matt Brown (M@), Londonist/Londonist Ltd. (27 October 2015) http://londonist.com/2015/10/how-deep-does-london-go?utm_content=buffer158a2&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer#

PHOTO MOMENT: A classic car – the 1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC

(c) WexMart243 @WexMart243 via Twitter
(c) WEXONMART, Inc.

The 1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC is one of those luxurious classic cars that evoke old-time gangsters and high-rollers highfaluting around New York‘s streets in one of those old black-and-white vintage movies. With its slender grill and large circular headlights bestowing upon the Jaguar XK140 DHC a cartoon character appearance, it is only when you take in the muscular and intense bodywork do you realise that this Jaguar is not an amusing joke. The legacy and reputation of Jaguar as a maker of cars that could dominate racing tracks at all the big circuits meant the XK140 was very much a statement of brute force in competition, yet sufficiently ordinary for the everyday driver with a fat wallet and very little time.

The XK140 series of classic cars first rolled off the production line in 1954 with the last models built in 1957, and was designed as the successor to the XK120. The model was designed to capitalise on Jaguar’s then reputation as a manufacturer of award-winning racing cars, of which one had won the Le Mans Rally in 1951. The main differences between the XK140 and XK120 Jaguars were that the former had larger bumpers with overriders and new flashing turn signals which were operated by a special switch added to the dashboard. It was also a bonus for taller drivers as an extra three inches of legroom was incorporated into the driver’s seat. In 1956 the XK140 became the first Jaguar sports car to be offered with automatic transmission. The DHC part of the car’s model name stands for Drop Head Coupe.

In 2013, the British auction house for luxury goods, Bonhams, auctioned off a maroon Jaguar XK140 DHC (1955 model) for the princely sum of £124,700 at the RAF Museum in Hendon, just outside London.

The pictures above were issued by Wexonmart, a luxury cars retailer based in Denver, United States, and the car featured was restored in 2010. It is being sold for a very massive sum of money due to the high demand for these rare classic motors among collectors and investors.

THE SPECS

(courtesy of Wexonmart)

Engine: 3400 ccm 192 HP

Rare 3-speed Borg-Warner automatic transmission

Drive type: RWD

Steering: LHD

Mileage: 900 miles

SOURCES:
“1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC” – Wexonmart Luxury Classic Cars & Gifts/WEXONMART, Inc. http://wexonmart.com/products.php?1956-jaguar-xk140-dhc&cPath=61
“Jaguar XK140” – Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaguar_XK140
“Lot 326 1955 Jaguar XK140 Drophead Coupé, Chassis no. 807164 Engine no. G3940-8” – Bonhams http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/20926/lot/326/
IMAGE CREDITS:
Vijay Shah { विजय }, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/VShah1984
WexMart243, Twitter, Twitter Inc. https://twitter.com/WexMart243
“1956 Jaguar XK140 DHC” – Wexonmart Luxury Classic Cars & Gifts/WEXONMART, Inc. http://wexonmart.com/products.php?1956-jaguar-xk140-dhc&cPath=61

THE FUTURE OF PRIVATE HIRE: Online UK wide taxi bookings with guaranteed licensed drivers/operators

with James Sorolla (contributor)

Today’s contributor, James, is a representative for the British-based online solutions enterprise, TriggerAppy Ltd, which focuses on the private hire sector.

TriggerAppy produces software in cooperation with some of the country’s largest taxi hire firms and private hire despatch software providers. One partnership with Diplomat http://www.diplomat.co.uk/ saw the two technology companies combine TriggerAppy’s online advanced web booking capability with Diploma’s software to provide a seamless experience for the passenger as well as create decent cost savings for the companies involved. The software helps reassure passengers that the cabs they order will be fully-licensed, and therefore far safer to hail and ride, which is especially important for lone travellers catching cabs at off-peak times. Individual cab firms can also maintain their own booking sites where they can acquire passengers at the click of a button, meaning all-round and effortless convenience for both parties.

(c) TriggerAppy Ltd.

Following on from the software, TriggerAppy plans to condense its product into a handy mobile phone app, that will help users order cabs safely and at their own convenience.

************

Ever wondered just how safe and above board the taxi operators are that you use when you visit any number of the online taxi booking sites?  And wouldn’t it be great to have a single service online that could cover your journey wherever you happen to be or need to get to, anywhere in the UK?  You might be fed up with your regular local companies or visiting somewhere new and wondering how you will get about… These are the key issues bubbling to the surface as the world of private hire finally catches up with technology.

People are starting to see the applications that individual taxi and minicab companies are offering for what they are…purely local “tools”, and in reality no-one really wants to clog up their mobile, tablet or pc with an app for each town or city.  So the winners in this race will be the truly national applications that keep things simple and offer the extensive service people are looking for.

English: UK Minicab - note name and phone numb...
English: UK Minicab – note name and phone number on the side of the Ford Mondeo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other essential element that will define the successful applications of the future in this arena is the safety of passengers, and how the applications seeking their business ensure that every journey booked via the application is fulfilled by a fully vetted and licensed driver or operator.  This particular issue is a hot topic with the regulators who can see the popularity of online and mobile applications taking off and are keen to ensure that every technology provider meets the grade.  It’s fair to say this is a bigger issue in some developing countries, but it’s worth noting that even in the UK there are certainly some less than trustworthy ventures in the app marketplace.  The hope is that the regulator will pick up on these instances and enforce the necessary changes, and soon.

These concerns aside, the advantages to booking online or on the go are clear, and some of the applications out there certainly offer some great features.  Those coupling this functionality with UK wide service levels are going to prove invaluable.

Some of the most advanced applications on the market ensure that all the journeys are seamlessly sent through to and handled by the operators.  No need for any more calling for a cab or rummaging around for a number to call.  Getting a no obligation quote and then guaranteeing a great price and service.  Even after your car is booked (all confirmed online) you can still send notes and receive further updates online from the taxi companies booked.  Online booking engines offer lots of great features for users to make rebooking fast and simple – the secure services let you save addresses, contact names, favourite journeys and much more.

One such online application is http://www.taxiforce.co.uk/ It’s a partnership with a leading Taxi and Private Hire Despatch Software provider http://www.diplomat.co.uk/  Thousands of the licensed private hire operators using their software and the “lite” version http://www.navlite.co.uk/ are seamlessly passed TaxiForce bookings.

IMAGE CREDITS:
TAXIFORCE, TriggerAppy Ltd. http://www.taxiforce.co.uk/
“File:Minicab.JPG” –  TerriersFan, Wikimedia Commons (13 September 2006) http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Minicab.JPG
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LONDON CABS: The MiniCabster Infographic

The Half-Eaten Mind has been based in London all its life. The author too has been based in the Greater London area all his life. He was born in Barking, which was once part of the nearby county of Essex until the Local Government Act of 1965 changed the face of the city’s political landscape and heralded the creation of the new county of Greater London (The Royal Mail still includes my hometown in its Essex postal district). He is both a Londoner and an ‘Essexman’, having spent his formative years in east London, where he still lives and is currently working in the city centre.

London
London (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

As a proud Londoner, I always take an interest in the going-ons of my city, especially given that I am trained as a journalist, the newsy aspect of London life. London is home to around 8 million people and is the financial and cultural powerhouse of the United Kingdom, as well as the centre of the country’s media industry. It is fun, exciting and exhilarating. It can also be tough, hectic, and depressing. But I do love my London.

In honour of this metropolis of magnificence and madness, the Half-Eaten Mind brings you this special ‘infographic’ courtesy of The Minicabster Blog, a website bringing news on the industry behind one of London’s most memorable tourist icons, the humble taxi cab. There are estimated to be around 23,000 ‘black cabs’ (taxis) plying their trade on London’s roads, according to local paper The Evening Standard. Add to that figure the thousands of private hire vehicles that are the travelling module of choice in the suburbs and outer areas of the city. They are usually known locally as ‘minicabs’.

The interactive infographic offers a short trip through the history & developments of the London cab and aims to answer all the questions you might have ever asked about taxis, such as when the first public carriages appeared and where the industry is heading now.

(c) Minicabster Ltd.

You can view the infographic by clicking the image above. The graphic works best with Google Chrome, but will also work well with Mozilla Firefox. Mobile users and people viewing it with Safari browsers may experience issues using this current version (Feb. 2014)

It is incredibly easy to use. You only need to push down the right arrow key on your keyboard to move the car and begin your historical journey. With fun graphics and accessible language, it is ideal for all age groups.

To find out more about Minicabster, the company behind the London taxi infographic, please visit https://www.minicabster.co.uk

SOURCES:
Taxi history – an interactive infographic from Minicabster!” – Chris Linn, Minicabster/Minicabster Ltd. (31 January 2014) LINK
“London’s black cabs have many miles in them yet, says China’s Henry Ford” – Toby Green, London Evening Standard (26 February 2013) LINK
IMAGE CREDITS:
“London” – Doug Wheller, Flickr (4 December 2011) LINK
“Taxi history – an interactive infographic from Minicabster!” – Chris Linn, Minicabster/Minicabster Ltd. (31 January 2014) LINK 
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FREE OAP TRAVEL: West Midlands pensioners could lose funding

The West Midlands “ring and ride” service which provides free transportation for the elderly could soon be abolished under local government cutbacks, the Express and Star reports.

The distinctive red, white and blue minibuses have long been a valuable service offering a degree of independence for people with mobility problems caused by advanced age or disability. However, Westminster’s austerity campaign to bring Britain out of recession has seen funding cut significantly for local councils across the United Kingdom, including those in the West Midlands region.

(c) Alzarian16/Wikimedia Commons

Cuts are expected to free public transport services in the West Midlands.

The dry-up of funds from Whitehall has seen councils all over England and Wales slash investment in core services, with disadvantaged groups taking the brunt of the impact. In the West Midlands areas where “Ring and Ride” operates, funding for subsidised public transport has been affected by sweeping changes that could spell the end of the service.

Centro, which manages the ring and ride service on behalf of several West Midlands councils is launching a consultation on an expected £14.6 million of cuts to public services. Pensioners could soon lose their right to free tram and train travel and child fares may also rise.

A meeting of councillors from across the West Midlands has taken place on the Centro consultation, but no concrete decisions have yet been made. A planned vote is being put forward to public transport users on whether pensioners should lose their free travel, keep their passes for a £30 annual fee, or be transferred from their free passes to a system of specially discounted fares. This is a controversial decision as many pensioners rely on the free passes to visit family and friends and avoid isolation. The free passes are especially valuable to elders who are on benefits or state pensions and would not be able to afford the extra travel costs.

In addition the public consultation will ask whether children’s half-price fare discounts should also be abolished entirely. Alternative suggestions including hiking child fares to 2/3 of the current adult price for travel, and the possibility of introducing fixed fare contributions, which will still be less than a pound.

Ring and ride services are provided by the West Midlands Special Needs Transport charity to the tune of an annual cost of £10.5 million, drawn from taxpayer-sourced funds. After years of being a free service, most passengers now pay fares of sixty pence per journey. Centro, which helps with the funding, plans to cut the amounts of grants it makes as contributions to Ring and Ride or pass on the responsibility to local councils entirely. This may pile on the already tremendous financial pressure on councils who may not be able to afford the services, meaning pensioners and disabled persons needing subsidised travel could find themselves trapped in a ‘postcode lottery’. This is despite pensioners’ rights to off-peak free travel being protected by law.

Consultations will take place over much of December in major West Midlands cities and towns including Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall. The Express and Star newspaper is also polling its readers on the proposed cuts to Ring and Ride. The poll is viewable on their website.

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SOURCES:
Half-Eaten Mind on Twitter LINK
Express & Star on Twitter LINK
“All funding could be cut from West Midlands ring and ride” – Express and Star (26 November 2013) LINK
IMAGE CREDIT:
“File:Travel West Midlands 1535 R135 XOB.jpg” – ‘Alzarian16’, Wikimedia Commons (14 June 2007) LINK

LEE NELSON & THE TRAIN INSPECTOR: The subtle art of ticket evasion

(c) Twitter
(c) Twitter

By Vijay Shah

Today I have been briefly browsing my Twitter feed and found this tweet by the comedian Lee Nelson, or as he likes to often refer to himself, a “well good legend!”.

For those Brainiacs not familiar with the on goings of the most televised chav since Vicky Pollard of Little Britain fame, here is a short introduction.

Nelson, real name Simon Brodkin, is a chirpy young lad with a proclivity for swearing and cracking jokes at the expense of audience members on his very well-received “Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show”. The Well Good Show has been running on BBC3 since June 2010, and has got to be one of the funniest sketch comedies I have seen in recent years.

Lee Nelson enjoys a quick snack at the GLive festival, Guildford (c) @RealLeeNelson/Twitter, Inc.
Lee Nelson enjoys a quick snack at the GLive festival, Guildford (c) @RealLeeNelson/Twitter, Inc.

Bedecked in a blue-and-white polo shirt and rarely seen without his trusty baseball cap, Nelson works the laughs with the help of his ‘bredrin’ , the long-suffering Omelette, an obese, often topless and begrudgingly compliant accomplice who finds himself subjected to dares by Lee, such as covering himself in dog food and eating all manners of artery-clogging crap.

Hiding out in train toilets just because you are too skint (poor) to afford to go to your own show must be a funnily awkward situation for our main man Lee. It has got to be a safe bet that the BBC are supplementing Mr Nelson’s jobseeker’s allowance with a sizeable enough salary that he could quite easily pay for the tickets of every single woman, man and child in his train carriage several times over.

It is a clever move on Lee’s part, seeking refuge in the men’s. The conductor has plenty of tickets to check and plenty of fare-dodgers to snare. He should be safe holed up in the bog. As long as one of the other passengers does not develop a full bladder or starts feeling the repercussions of last night’s shawarma kebab. Because if someone else needs to answer the call of nature, Lee could well be in ‘nuff’ trouble. You get me innit…..

Occurring across all the transport networks that criss-cross London, fare dodging, or ‘ticketless travel’ to use the officially sanitised term, is a monumental headache for the people who keep our Tube, trains and buses running.

According to Transport for London’s own figures for last year, collectively about £63 million worth in fares was lost by customers’ refusal to pay whilst using London’s public transport systems.

Now I am an honest guy, but even I have committed some fare avoidance of my own a few times. I am not proud of it, but my finances were very tight.  Here in east London, and in many other places, ‘forgetting’ to use your Travelcard was almost a rite of passage. The articulated or ‘bendy’ buses that were widespread until Mayor Boris Johnson sold them off, were so universally popular among fare-dodgers that they were dubbed ‘free buses’. A moniker that was not just based on urban legend.

I had lost count of the number of times I would see people, usually teenagers, breeze onto the bus without ‘touching in’ their Oystercards – some would hop on then hop off after a few stops, like frogs in denim jumping from one red wheeled lily pad to the next. It was not a challenge either.

Unlike trains which always seemed to be swarming with ticket inspectors, the bendy bus was remarkably thin on the wheels when it came to the presence of revenue protection staff.  Nevertheless when people I knew jumped on for a gratis ride on the number 25 from Oxford Circus to Stratford, they must have been soiling themselves with fear waiting for that dreaded tap on the shoulder…”Mate, can I see your Oystercard”…”oh s**t, I got clocked!”. But even from my darker days, that was really once in a blue moon!

For fare-dodgers on the bendy buses, the advantages were simple. Unlike normal buses where everyone had to enter the vehicle through the front entrance and tap their cards on the special reader near the driver’s cab, the bendies had three pairs of doors and several readers, making detection by an eagle-eyed driver much harder. On busy routes, crowds were a blessing. With everyone packed to the rafters like Atlantic sardines, there was no way a conductor would be able to check commuters’ tickets.

As long as you kept your mouth shut, kept your eyes peeled and preferably did not look too young , it was child’s play. If by chance Mr/Ms Ticket Inspector made an unscheduled appearance, you sneaked off at the next stop. Nobody had a clue.

 

 

TfL are naturally keen to clamp down on fare evasion (c) Craig Ward
TfL are naturally keen to clamp down on fare evasion (c) Craig Ward

For the poorer travellers who chose a free ride, it was because they just could not afford to pay. Gone were the days when a bus ride only cost 70 pence one way. Those gloriously cheap days are long dead. For others, it is their way of ‘sticking it to the man’. TfL are always bumping up fare prices, as my Travelcard and its annual eye-watering increases will bear witness. No-one likes being ripped off and no-one especially wants half their monthly wages disappearing into transport bosses’ oversized pockets while having to put up with commuting under the mind-altering aroma of a thousand stinking armpits. It is not travelling, it is torture. Barmy Boris fiddles while London sweats.

For others it was the ultimate game of ‘chicken’ with the silent hordes of TfL staff trying to protect their employer’s income. Thousands of adrenaline junkies putting their criminal records on the line as they get to Westfield whilst saving a bit of change too.  It has become even more daring now, since TfL recently increased their penalty notices for fare evasion from £50 to £80. It is admittedly a pity for the junkies because if TfL revenue protectors do finger your collar, all that money you saved in paying for your journeys just gets confiscated – and then some.

I am not trying to say that the master art of fare evasion is a good thing. Not at all. After all, you are using a service and by not paying for it you are committing theft. Having a criminal record for simply saving on a couple of quid will cost you far more than just coughing up the fare – and that is not just in financial terms.

But as badboy joker Lee Nelson sits the inspection out on one of Greater Anglia’s finest porcelain thrones, you can imagine he is having a ‘well good laugh’.  Let’s hope the inspector has a sense of humour, or Lee is going to need a hefty wad of cash.

SOURCE:

“Simon Brodkin” – Wikipedia LINK

“War on fare dodgers increases as penalty charges go up this weekend” – Transport for London LINK

IMAGE CREDITS:

@RealLeeNelson – Lee Nelson, Twitter LINK

Mr Craig Ward – Design & Art Direction LINK

EMIRATES AIR-LINE: Fly across the Thames!

A CGI interpretation of the new cable car system (c) News Limited Australia

What would be the first thing that comes to your mind when you think ‘cable car’?. Skiing, snow, Alps, Switzerland, Grenoble? …trying to get quickly to the top of the mountain before the novices completely wreck the piste?.

Well not quite. A new urban cable car system has recently been opened across the river Thames in London that may well show tourists and Londoners that being suspended in a cabin several hundred feet above the ground need not be exclusive to ice-cold mountain ranges.

The Emirates Air Line is London’s first cable car and offers panoramic views across the city as you travel over the river. It is part of the revamping of London which is accelerating as the capital gears itself up to host the Olympic & Paralympic Games this month.  The system came about with funding and sponsorship from the airline firm Emirates as well as guidance and support from Transport for London and the city’s mayor, Boris Johnson. It serves as a connection between the O2 shopping centre/arena in North Greenwich and the ExCel centre in Custom House, east London.

London’s federal city mayor Boris Johnson at his first ride along with flight attendants from the sponsor Emirates (c) Arabian Aerospace Online News Service

The Air Line provides a much-needed and far more exciting way to cross the Thames, where previously it meant a journey either by Tube, river boat or car. It will also provide investment and tourist cash to what was once a badly neglected part of London. Londoners and tourists will be surprised at how easy it is to use. All you need is a special ‘Oystercard’  – a blue-coloured plastic card that can be purchased for £5 ($7.80) from special machines at most Underground stations. You can alternatively pay the fare with cash, but it does work out cheaper with the Oystercard. Frequent users can obtain multi-trip tickets which will attract bigger savings.

Emirates Air Line extends for 1.1 kilometres across London’s arterial waterway at a height of 90 metres, running from the Greenwich Peninsula to the now-rebranded Emirates Royal Docks, located near Royal Victoria DLR station, which is part of the Docklands Light Railway that covers much of east London. It is a unique travel experience, giving passengers amazing views of the city’s most formidable landmarks, such as Canary Wharf, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Thames Barrier and the new Olympic Park. The construction billed at around £38 million and the components were sourced and manufactured mostly within the United Kingdom, therefore providing a boost for the local construction and manufacturing sector.

London is a crowded city with over 8 million inhabitants. It is just as well that the Air Line cable cars can carry more than 2,000 passengers per hour in both directions. Cabins arrive at the pick-up points every 30 seconds and total journey time is five minutes (peak) and 10 minutes if off-peak, when it is less busy. The cabins and line are fully accessible to all passengers, being designed with step-free access and additional space for bicycles. Each cabin can carry up to 10 people at a time, making Emirates’  first venture into land-based transportation family and group friendly.

Children under 5 years get free entrance. All children under 12 can only ride with an attendant supervising adult. For everyone else, boarding passes can be purchased from the terminals at either end of the Emirates Air Line, or you can top up a Oystercard at any shop or Tube station that has the Oyster blue livery/signage visible.

The official logo (c) Turquoise Brand Ltd. Inc.

FARES:

Adult Single – £4.30 (£3.20 with Oystercard)

Adult Return – £8.60 (£6.40 with Oystercard

Child (5-15 years of age) Single – £2.20 (£1.60 with Oystercard)

Child Return – £4.40 (£3.20 with Oystercard)

Oystercard discounts also apply to pensioners holding Freedom Passes and to anyone holding a Travelcard (either Oyster or printed card version). If you buy a multi-trip Boarding Pass, you can reduce the cost of a single journey to only £1.60.

OPERATING HOURS:

Summer timetable (to 30th September 2012)

Mon-Fri: 0700-2100

Sat: 0800-2100

Sun: 0900-2100

Peak times/peak hour services (the busiest times for passenger usage): 0700-1000 & 1500-2100

For real-time service updates, you can visit the Emirates Air Line at www.tfl.gov.uk/emiratesairline or follow on Twitter – @EmiratesAirLDN

Looking towards the O2 from 90m above the Thames © Laura Porter, licensed to About.com, Inc.

This article was written using information distributed by Transport for London.