Over £400,000 Spent on Ferry That Never Ran

Uber Boat service on Hammersmith Bridge was paid for but not used

Sarah Olney MP described the amount of money spent as 'inexcusable'

A question to City Hall by a London Assembly Member has revealed that the government spent around £400,000 on a ferry service to Barnes by Hammersmith Bridge that never operated.

The Department for Transport spent £80,000 a month for the unused Thames Uber Boat from August before deciding that the service would be unviable after the reopening of the bridge to pedestrians and cyclists.

Uber Boat won the contract to operate a temporary ferry service in February 2021 with an expected start date in the Spring but this was delayed by the government. Then in July the bridge partially reopened.

In his reply on 21 December to Liberal Democrat Caroline Pidgeon’s question on the matter , the Sadiq Khan said, "During the intervening period Transport for London (TfL) sought to minimise costs associated with the temporary ferry.

"However, the taskforce led by the Department of Transport (DfT) requested that options be developed for how the service could be operated on a standby basis should it be required during the repair works on the bridge, so a small core team has had to be retained for this purpose.

"TfL has also had to pay the holding costs associated with the infrastructure for the ferry service. Together these costs amount to £80k for every four weeks since August 2021.

"These payments have been met with funding provided by the DfT as part of the government's financial settlements in October 2020 and June 2021, which were ring-fenced for this purpose."

Richmond Park MP Sarah Olney said on Twitter, "Considering the devastating impact the closure of Hammersmith Bridge has had on the lives of my constituents, £400,000 (so far) really is an inexcusable amount of money.

"Why could it not have been put towards improving and extending local bus services?"

TfL has been approached for comment.

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January 6, 2022