TfL and the Mayor have released their River Action Plan (pdf download), outlining how they plan to build capacity and take-up of Thames services over the next few years. From the Mayor's foreword:
I am determined to capitalise on the achievements of the past year and to safeguard the river’s central role in the future success 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 maximise its potential for river travel.
This means developing a strategic pier network that can accommodate an increase in river services; providing clearer, simpler information so that passengers can choose the right river service for them; and positioning the river as an integral part of London life.
TfL have allocated £10m to this programme, and plan to open three new piers (at Plantation Wharf, Battersea Power Station, and Enderby Wharf) over the next seven years. Savoy, Wapping, Convoys Wharf, Wood Wharf, North Greenwich West, Vanesta Wharf, Gallions Reach and Barking have also been identified as potential stopping points in the future.
Demand for river services has increased by 25% in the last four years, and with over 100,000 new homes planned near the river by 2031, TfL is right to target river services for expansion.
Wave and Pay will be rolled out onto all services, and real-time transport information placed on existing piers from this summer.This is all good news.
However, Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dem Chair of the Assembly Transport Committee, has quite rightly identified concerns over the pace of change and lack of Oyster Pay As You Go integration. These, especially the Oyster point, need addressing. As we've seen with the Emirates AirLine, limiting Oyster integration depresses passenger numbers. It will be no use having an improved service which shuts out a large number of Londoners.