Two firms have submitted detailed proposals to operate a ferry service while London’s Hammersmith Bridge is closed.
City Cruises and Uber Boat by Thames Clippers are bidding to provide the cross-river service for pedestrians and cyclists, Transport for London said.
Cracks in the pedestals of Hammersmith Bridge in the west of the capital led to motor vehicles being prohibited from using it in April 2019.
The 133-year-old cast iron structure deteriorated further during a heatwave, leading to it being closed to all users in August 2020.
A ferry service is aimed at reducing journey times for people crossing the river. It will run between 6am and 10pm on weekdays, with a reduced timetable at weekends.
Fares are expected to mirror the cost of bus travel, at £1.55. The winning bidder is due to be announced in March, with the service unlikely to begin before the summer.
TfL said the award of the contract is dependent on the Government agreeing to provide financial support for the ferries.
A Government taskforce was launched in September 2020 to develop plans to reopen the bridge.
TfL said it had already spent £16.7 million on the scheme, with a further £4 million committed to repair work taking place.
The transport body’s head of major projects sponsorship David Rowe said: “We are working at pace to get a temporary ferry operating to ease the upheaval and inconvenience caused by the closure of Hammersmith Bridge.
“This ferry will restore the vital cross-river connection between Hammersmith and Barnes, and allow repair work to be done on Hammersmith Bridge at the same time.
“We look forward to appointing one of these shortlisted operators in the coming weeks and then having people on board boats as soon as possible.”