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London commuter boats to be renamed Uber Boat under a new sponsorship deal

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Uber and Thames Clippers announced a deal this morning which will see the Thames Clippers commuter boat service rebranded as Uber Boat.

The service had previously been sponsored by MBNA, although that deal did not including naming rights.

When you scratch the surface, this appears to be more of a PR campaign and less of an attempt to do anything radically new:

Uber is not buying Thames Clippers, it has simply signed a three year sponsorship deal (Thames Clippers is, oddly, majority owned by AEG, operator of the O2 Arena in Greenwich).  The service will be known as Uber Boat by Thames Clippers.

You WILL be able to buy Thames Clipper tickets via the Uber app, but all other ticketing methods, including Oyster discounts, will remain

End-to-end ticketing, linking an Uber car ride and a boat trip, will not be possible

Uber will have no role in the management of the business

4.3 million passengers used the Thames Clippers service last year.  The fleet comprises 20 boats and operates from 23 piers between Putney and Woolwich.

Services resumed last month after a suspension during the coronavirus peak.  The new branding arrangement is due to launch “in late Summer”.

Comments (28)

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  • Michael C says:

    Seems like a good thing on balance. They don’t get a lot of attention but a lot of people use Uber so it will make the clippers more visible

  • E14 says:

    It would be nice if they could get the prices down from ridiculous to reasonable ! Especially the after concert boats (not that we have to worry about them for a little while yet).

    • The Streets says:

      TfL do not subsidise Thames Clippers which makes the fares more expensive than other modes

  • Mark F says:

    U-Boats! Up the Thames!

    Surely, within a day, they will be universally referred to as such…

    • babyg says:

      excellent… its already stuck in my mind… the paint jobs started on the U-Boats a few weeks ago, some are black now (blue is painted out) but without UBER BOAT on them yet..

    • Anna says:

      That was my first thought! Das U (ber) Boot!

  • Sunguy says:

    When I lived in CW and the wife worked at St. Thomas`s – she loved it…..however, she paid about the same for a monthly ticket as I did for a Z1-2 travelcard… that was a few years ago….

    It was still £5 single for me to use the clipper 1 single stop from CW – Tower and thats with the travelcard discount.

    The cost is absurd … I would have used it daily, despite the walk from Tower pier to the office..but I couldnt justify it…..

    Also, I hated the fact that you couldnt buy a ticket in advance and had to be on the day unless buying a weekly/monthly – which was just stupid…..(I hope they have changed that by now – its been a few years since I last looked into it!).

    • flyforfun says:

      You used to be able to buy a book of 10 tickets but that died when AEG took over.

    • Genghis says:

      When we lived in Cutty Sark and I worked at KPMG (so got a discount as they sponsored it at the time), I used to use it for a leisurely routing into town, but even then it was pricy.

    • Rob says:

      I am guessing it is capacity issues. The law on passenger number on boats is very strict vs trains / tubes. If they sold you a £1 ticket to go Canary Wharf to Tower it means they can’t sell someone else a £5 ticket to go further.

      • flyforfun says:

        Canary Wharf to Tower Bridge is 2 zones, East and Central.

        Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf you can only do on the “Hilton Ferry”. It’s a different ferry. Staff count passengers on and off so they know at all times the pax numbers. I don’t think they are at an advanced point in time where they worry about upstream numbers. The only time I’ve seen them limit people was on 7/7 when they only half filled the boat at Embankment to let more people on downstream.

  • flyforfun says:

    Ah! That explains the patchwork of panelling that’s appearing as they pass by window. It doesn’t look as good as the previous blue wave that’s being phased out. It may have looked ok on paper in black but the ones I’ve seen so far look as if part of the boat is missing! Hasn’t Uber lost it’s licence in London by the way? Or it’s appealing it? Never needed uber as my local mini-cab firm, Carrot Cars is great for travel from the Wharf area – and cheaper than uber when I price compare. Always prefer to have a fixed fee rather than get hit by surge pricing or whatever whim of the day pricing uber does.

    Re ferry pricing, the most ridiculous part is if you want to cross on what was the Hilton Ferry from Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf. You get charged the same as if you travel anywhere within the zone.
    I think it was £4.50 last time I used it and decided I’d just drive to Rotherhithe instead!! They were talking of a fast free ferry link here to replace the abomination of bridge they tried to foist on the area. The community survey was so skewed to getting a positive outcome for the bridge a blind man could see it!

    • babyg says:

      @flyforfun – I was pro bridge.. personally i thought it looked well designed… its a shame it got abolished… its bonkers there are no london bridges south of tower bridge IMHO… a fast ferry is unlikely stimulate foot/cycle traffic like a bridge would have….

      • Gio says:

        East, surely?

      • flyforfun says:

        @babyg did you see the final proposal? It wasn’t that architect’s wet dream that started the cyclist lobby militarising their push for it. It was an ugly grey monstrosity that had to have its platform so high to allow cruise ships to pass underneath when raised at high tide. If it needed raising it would be up for 30 minutes at a time to allow boats to pass. The ramps and stairs would have taken some time to get up and down. But the £600M+ price tag was the real killer.

        With the finances in TFL’s budget due to Covid-19 I think the bridge is definitely dead and the ferry option delayed.

        • Ben says:

          “ the cyclist lobby militarising their push for it” <— not sure I like this language

      • flyforfun says:

        @babyg Have you seen the pedestrian/cycle ferries in Amsterdam? They seem to stimulate numbers very well every time I go. Are the cyclists here lycra louts that can’t wait 5 mins for a connection that’s going to save them 30 mins by road?

        • TGLoyalty says:

          Aren’t they free?

          • flyforfun says:

            Yes, they are. And there was a proposal for the ferry to be free here however I expect the budget issues may affect that.

        • babyg says:

          yes i was sold on the swanking concept bridge, it was beautiful – i can understand why others didnt like the bridge. Tower bridge raises/closes and its not much of an issue. I think comparing Amsterdam (which is cycling mad) with London and how a ferry would encourage cycling is apples for oranges. When you think of great land marks they are often bridges etc (Brunel Clifton Suspension Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge) these things draw people toward them and were controversial at the time – but look at them now! Anyhow, the bridge is dead between Canary Wharf and Rotherhithe, and based on TLF budget constraints the ferry will likely be delaaaayeed…

          • flyforfun says:

            The speculative design was very nice, although the architects never bothered with the finer details of where the ramps would go, just a land grab on public space on on side and commercial space on the other.

            The proposed design, that only came out after the surveys were done was something akin to a transporter bridge. It was hard to find an image of it on official sites but I found one here: Not very pretty in any circumstances! As it was, there were grave concerns about tides and more, along with cost.

  • JG says:

    Uber could do with some good publicity. Attitude of many of their drivers to assistance dogs is shocking.

    • Super Secret Stuff says:

      So I’ve heard. I’m on the waiting list for a guide dog and I already know taxi drivers are going to be the biggest problem once I get it. I’ve come up with a plan: complain and try and sue them, will teach them a lesson.

  • mr_jetlag says:

    Take the “Uber Boat” from the “O2” to the “Kia Oval” via “St Georges Wharf”. You may have to rent a
    “Santander Bike (aka Barclays Bike)” to get there.

    RIP London, the vermin have taken over…

  • ADS says:

    i wonder if Uber included a clause in the sponsorship contract that allows them to terminate if they lose their right to operate in London ?

    or maybe Uber are so supremely confident that they didn’t bother including it ?!

    • flyforfun says:

      The article I read was that it is a rolling contract for up to 3 years. So an opportunity to exit without ongoing costs.

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