Plans to improve Uber Boat in Barking one step closer as council approves £450k funding

By Staff

A plan to improve an Uber Boat service for residents during the week in East London is one step closer after local cabinet members agreed to provide £450,000 in funding to help develop the project on Tuesday, March 19. Barking Riverside Limited (BRL), the developer behind Barking Riverside, wants Uber Boats by Thames Clipper (UBTC) to introduce an all-day, hourly service during the week as they said work patterns have changed since the pandemic and a peak-only service doesn’t always suit people’s schedules.

UBTC has operated a peak weekday service (6.30am to 11am and from 5.15pm to 11.45pm) and an all-day weekend service (8.10am to midnight) at Barking Riverside Pier since April 2022. Barking Riverside is the last stop in the east while Putney is the last stop in the west. All together there are 24 stops in total.

Ticket prices depend on which of the three zones (West, Central and East) you travel through, though children aged four and under travel free, while kids aged between five and 15 receive 50 per cent off. UBTC told Barking Riverside Limited that an all-day service during the week would only be possible over the next few years if it can get funding, with UBTC asking for just over £1 million to increase the weekday service.

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As Barking Riverside Limited can’t afford to fund the plans on its own, it’s asked Barking and Dagenham Council to put £450,000 from its Strategic Community Infrastructure Levy (SCIL) towards the project, which would be spread across three years. SCIL is a pot of money which is spent on infrastructure in the borough such as schools and transport schemes to help support the local community and neighbourhoods.

UBTC is also in the process of obtaining three new boats, which were originally planned to service parts of West London, however, the boats will be handed over to the easternmost stop if Barking Riverside Limited can secure funding.

Cameron Geddes, cabinet member for regeneration and economy, said the plans would help residents and businesses have a ‘better-connected centre’ and increased services would also help support local schools who take day trips to Woolwich and Greenwich.

The leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, Darren Rodwell said the UBTC service so far had been a ‘wonderful success’ and increasing the number of Uber Boats during the week will ‘speed up the change that is needed down in Riverside’.

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Deputy leader of the council, Dominic Twomey was also in support of the plans, and said: “This is probably the definition of Strategic Community Infrastructure because transportation is what we absolutely need.”

Elizabeth Kangethe, cabinet member for educational attainment and school improvement said a number of teachers working in Barking Riverside had already asked her whether the service could be increased during the week.

Cllr Kangethe added: “I’m sure they will really be celebrating because that will help us retain our good teachers who otherwise would feel like it’s too much to travel through Barking. It’s helping not just us as the locals, but it’s another advantage to schools who want to travel to to different areas for school trips.”

After discussing the plans, cabinet members agreed to approve the recommendations in the cabinet report, which will see the council put £450,000 towards the project across three years. BRL will still be required to secure the remaining funding from other parties such as the Greater London Authority (GLA) and private sector partners and other local authorities that would benefit from the increased services.

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