Hammersmith Bridge: £400k cost for unused ferry ‘inexcusable’ says Richmond Park MP

A Richmond MP slammed the Department for Transport (DfT) for spending over £400k on maintaining the Hammersmith Bridge replacement ferry service.

Sarah Olney, MP for Richmond Park, said the ferry service was not needed after the bridge, which connects Barnes in the Borough of Richmond and south Hammersmith, reopened in July 2021.

She continued: “Once the Bridge was reopened to pedestrians and cyclists, and assurances were given that it would not be closed for extended periods of time, it was clear to almost everyone that the ferry service would no longer be required.

“Apparently the DfT did not get the memo. Now nearly half a million pounds has been spent on retaining a service that will never see the light of day.”

An answer from Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to a question from London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon revealed the DfT requested the Uber Boat ferry service by Thames Clippers be kept on standby after the bridge was reopened, in case it was needed during future repair works.

This cost Transport for London (TfL) £80k every four weeks, though the costs were picked up by the DfT, meaning over £400k has been spent to the present day.

Khan added that on 25 November 2021 a DfT taskforce confirmed the ferry service would not be needed, and that negotiations to terminate the ferry contract are being finalised.

Olney said: “Throughout this entire saga, getting the government to cough up any significant funds has been painfully hard work, so seeing how much money has been wasted on the ferry really is inexcusable when you think about what else it could have been spent on.

“For instance, the funds could have gone to improving the local bus services that my constituents have been relying on in the Bridge’s absence, or into installing a rickshaw service that would have benefited the elderly and disabled.”

The bridge was initially closed entirely in August 2020 after cracks in the structure worsened during a heatwave, though it closed to motorists in April 2019.

Image by George Rex, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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