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Тема : Полное понимание информации в тексте
Раздел: Чтение
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According to the title of the article, the author thinks that the river transport...

1) needs improvement.
2) is suitable only for tourists.
3) is not very promising.
4) provides big business opportunities.

Trial by Water

One might be tempted to perceive the river Thames as a mere component of London's interconnected transportation system, marked with the same blue hue on the map as the Victoria Underground line. In this ideal world, passengers transition effortlessly from river ferries to trains, buses, or the Tube, continuing their journey seamlessly and carefree.

Regrettably, reality tells a different tale. Father Thames is not as benevolent and even-tempered as it appears when observing from the map. It is a muddy, tidal estuary with treacherous currents that deceptively swirl around the base of bridges. Navigation is challenging. Moreover, the river does not flow in a straight line; it meanders in large loops, particularly around the Canary Wharf financial district. Upon disembarking from a river ferry, passengers often have to walk for five or ten minutes to reach the nearest land connection.

With London's Tube and buses operating at maximum capacity, a series of determined entrepreneurs have braved these obstacles and attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to establish commuter services on this natural waterway. Sean Collins believes he is the fifteenth entrepreneur to undertake this endeavor since 1905. However, this time, circumstances may be different. His business, originally known as Collins River Enterprises in 1999, shows promising signs of enduring into its second decade, despite economic challenges and volatile fuel expenses. Presently known as Thames Clippers, the company transported 3.2 million passengers in 2009, operating fast catamarans between Woolwich, located downstream of the city center, and Waterloo.

Perhaps Mr. Collins, now serving as the managing director, simply had the fortune to seize the right opportunity. The past decade has been favorable to the Thames. Large-scale property developments have sprung up on both sides of the river, with more underway in preparation for the 2012 Olympic Games. Thus far, Canary Wharf seems to have weathered the financial storm. Additionally, there has been another advantage: both public and private support have played a crucial role in backing the firm.

Thames Clippers receives a modest subsidy from Transport for London (TfL), a part of the Greater London Authority. A significant step towards welcomed integration occurred in November when passengers were first allowed to use their TfL Oyster fare cards on Thames Clippers as well. Recently, Greenwich Council agreed to pay £269,000 to ensure a guaranteed service between Greenwich and Woolwich over the next four years.

A major obstacle lies in the fragmented ownership and management of landing piers. TfL owns seven out of the thirteen piers in central London, while various property developers possess the rest. At jointly used piers, the situation does not favor the ferries striving to adhere to a timetable. Delays can occur due to tourist boats waiting for passengers. In order to exert greater control over their schedule, Thames Clippers took over the lease of the privately-owned London Bridge City Pier in November.

Another hindrance is the unnecessarily rigid speed restriction. The Port of London Authority (PLA) imposes a 12-knot limit west of Wapping, restricting boats from showcasing their exhilarating cruising speed of 30 knots to only the eastern stretches of the river.

The PLA supports the initiative to encourage more individuals to utilize the river but emphasizes that safety is of utmost importance. Additionally, it highlights that tourists and freight, not just commuters, utilize the Thames. Consequently, for now, Thames Clippers' sophisticated catamarans to and from Waterloo remain a hidden delight for those in the know.

Ответ: 3

Источник: NeoFamily