Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Great Commuter Boat Race; IS GOING TO WORK BY RIVER BETTER THAN BUS, TUBE OR BIKE?

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Great Commuter Boat Race; IS GOING TO WORK BY RIVER BETTER THAN BUS, TUBE OR BIKE?

Article excerpt

A PLAN for a new system of commuter ferries for the Thames has been announced by former P&O chairman Lord Sterling of Plaistow. He envisages craft capable of carrying more than 100 people each stopping at piers from Putney to Greenwich.

It would be a fresh-air alternative to the Tube, which can get very overcrowded and stifling; buses which many see as slow, unreliable and smelly and the bike, which can be dangerous.

So would ferries really benefit commuters? We sent four writers to compare the commute from Putney to Blackfriars by bus, Tube, boat and bicycle. Here's what they found...

The boat

Journey time: 42 minutes Cost: [pounds sterling]5 (season ticket available) Verdict: calming, refreshing THE sun glints off the glossy Thames-side apartments as I board Edward Langley's ferry at Putney Embankment.

The Henley makes the trip downstream to Blackfriars once every weekday at 7.30am, and returns once in the evening.

My companion at the prow, as the boat makes her stately way downriver, turns out to be the eminent lawyer Michael Mansfield QC, who represented the families of the Marchioness disaster, among others.

"On a morning like this, there's no better way to travel," he says. He takes the boat every day to his chambers near Farringdon, and extols the virtue of its salon - where tea, coffee and papers are on offer for the colder mornings.

At 7.42am we dock at Chelsea Harbour Pier, and pick up "a better class of passenger", as Mr Mansfield jokes. At 8.12am with St Paul's looming, we slide up to Blackfriars pier. I began this journey scratchy and thick-headed, but end it calm, refreshed and newly in love with London.

NICK CURTIS

The bike

Time: 39 minutes Cost: Free Verdict: choking and dangerous but exhilarating

THE sun is shining, there is a cool breeze and I am about to have a bit of fresh air, exercise and a detour through the park. …

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