Some spokes in the bike hire wheel


Serco has a contract worth £160m over six years to run the cycle hire scheme

Many people absolutely love Boris Johnson's bike hire scheme and it's really popular with around 22,000 trips taken a day.

It also has a loyal following with many web forums like

However, there have been problems bubbling along for some time including:

  • Faulty bikes
  • Call centre queries
  • Overcharging on accounts

There's also been some concern that the experience for casual users isn't ideal, especially when using a credit card.

In fact, I have found out the contractor Serco has been penalised £5m for not meeting targets set in its contract and has had payments withheld.

Insiders have also told me that the current model doesn't work, especially around mainline train stations where docking stations empty straight away.

Start Quote

Cycle hire scheme

They said the only way for the system to work... is to charge more at rush hour”

End Quote Tom Edwards

They said that the only way for the system to work and for docking stations to be refilled by users is to charge more at rush hour to limit demand.

I can't see that happening in the run-up to the mayoral election, but it is quite an admission.

Another interesting point is that there's been an big increase in casual users.

Every weekday 20% of trips are now casual users with that rising to 50% at the weekend. Transport for London (TfL) expect that to rise even more in the summer.

By serving a critical improvement plan and a sending a team into Serco to try and help - TfL hope they can sort out these problems soon.

How have you been finding the hire scheme? Has it got worse recently?

Tom Edwards, Transport correspondent, London Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Tom, For your information see my FOI request here

    It really would not be difficult for them to change the software so that refunds were automatically processed if a hire period was activated but no cycles used. Or even better change the software so that a hire period is not started until a bike is released.

    I think you should start a campaign for this!

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Not sure how much of a difference the crack team from TfL are going to make. The blind leading the blind, springs to mind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    JP / Olly - i've heard of that a few times. Amazing they haven't sorted it. They'll be making a few quid. Thanks for posting. Needs following up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    Olly JP - i don't think you are alone. Had a lot of complaints about it. I think most people don't report a one pound loss either so Serco will be making a few quid there. Thanks for posting - needs following up !

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Mammuthus. I said it was popular not a success - and frankly that's not surprising considering it is priced so low it's virtually free. I can assure you I have never "regurgitated Tfl propaganda" infact I spend my professional life doing the opposite. It's a tfl scheme and it's not working as its meant to and ultimately they are responsible. RE Blackfriars - yes agreed. Best Tom


Comments 5 of 9



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.