Okay, it’s not the quickest way to get to anywhere other than Victoria Dock itself, and yes, the cash could have been spent on other things – but I hold up my hands – I love the new cable car with a passion.
I wasn’t convinced I was going to – as a sickly Phantom who suffers from both vertigo and motion sickness I had my doubts. About a week before it opened I took a trip on the Roosevelt Island ‘Tram’ in New York, which isn’t nearly as high, but at least similar (it, too, goes to somewhere that is already served by other transport, and only has a bunch of flats, an old tram shelter and a hospital once you get there) just to see if I was going to freak out.
I didn’t. Still, the first time I used our own local cable car for local people, I used my Oyster, just in case. I enjoyed it so much that I immediately bought a season ticket. Then I bought a bunch of other season tickets so I could persuade my friends to come.
Why do I love it?
I love the views. I love the way it stops and steadies itself in high winds. I love the cheery chaps that arrange who’s going to sit where like something out of a stop-motion kid’s TV programme like Bob the Builder or Postman Pat. I love looking down on Anthony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud and realising that you can still see a human figure in it even from above. I love looking across at the boiler-suited climbers huffing and puffing their way up and over the Dome, desperately pretending that they’re on Sydney Harbour Bridge, and smugly thinking ‘ha, ha, cheaper, easier, higher, sitty-downier than you…’ I love the screens with the creepy films of ‘locals’ waving for just that little bit too long as you’re waiting to have a podule allocated to you. I love that the season tickets are so lo-tech that you actually have to have them punched with a proper puncher like back in the 1950s and the guy on barrier duty has to stop everything to let you out. I love the air-con blowing round my bare ankles (or is that just a draft?) I love the way it speeds up as you’re going down so you get that little rush of adrenalin (I know, I know, I haven’t been out much recently.) I love that the quickest way through to North Greenwich station is through a busy car park and nobody seems to think that that’s going to be a problem.
I’m such a kid that I find myself scrambling about over the seats to make sure I don’t miss anything, then I realise I’ve missed loads and the first thing I want to do is get back on again. I even used it to actually get from A to B a couple of times, albeit in a slightly roundabout and more expensive fashion than it would have been if I’d just gone from North Greenwich to Stratford on the Jubilee Line.
I know. I’ve heard all the white elephant/ should have spent it on other things/ Mayor’s vanity project/ in the pocket of a certain airline/ frivolous waste/ already served by plenty of transport/ will be unused after the ‘Lympics arguments and in my head I hear them. Trouble is, in cases such as this my heart always, always wins. I just love the cable car.
My one regret is that I haven’t actually had a podule to myself yet. Never mind – shouldn’t have to wait long for that…