It Would Have Been Cheaper To Give Every Boris Bike User A Free Tube Ticket Than Build The System
The Mayor of London's bicycle hire scheme is looking shaky.
Barclays has pulled out of sponsoring London's Boris Bike scheme.
The scheme has had to hike its prices, is losing money and is shedding users. Here's what's going wrong:
It would have been cheaper to give every Boris Bike user a free tube ticket than build the scheme.
Our analysis shows how every single Boris Bike journey ever has been subsidised by over £3 of public money – more than the cost of a central London tube ticket using an Oyster card.
Barclays' sponsorship deal never covered anything like the cost of the scheme. Transport for London says constructing and operating the scheme for its first six years will cost £225 million – or £37.5 million a year.
Some of this money can be recouped. But Barclays will now pay less than £5 million a year for their five year sponsorship deal, while TransportXtra discovered revenue from the scheme's users is running at just £8 million for the 2012/13 financial year – the scheme's most successful period.
In short, after almost three-and-a-half years of operation the schemes' costs have hit £123 million, income from sponsorship is £16 million on a proportionate basis and revenue is approximately £26 million if we use the 2012/13 figure as a high benchmark.
The remaining £81 million of costs have been picked up by Transport for London, local councils and other public bodies who have helped fund the scheme.
With 26.4 million journeys made by November 2013, this works out at £3 for each and every journey ever.
And there's no sign of the scheme becoming profitable.
Even if you exclude construction costs, the scheme had an operating shortfall of £11 million during 2012/13.
Transport for London has admitted they have no idea whether the scheme will ever break-even, even as its budget for other forms of transport are being cut. Boris Bikes have so far been subsidised by £3 per use, while bus journeys attract an ongoing subsidy of just 17 pence.
New figures show how Boris Bike user numbers have fallen down to near launch levels.
Part of the problem is that Transport for London decided to double access fees in an attempt to increase revenue.
The price rise caused user satisfaction to plummet.
Meanwhile Serco, the people running the scheme, are struggling to ensure enough bikes are available.
That said, the cycle hire scheme is extending into West London this week, which will boost usage figures.
But it costs TfL an awful lot of money to run this scheme.
All forms of transport are subsidised but the Boris Bike scheme is particularly costly.
The main hope for a revival lies with the planned introduction of Oyster-style contactless payment for bikes in a few years' time, which may increase usage.
And in the meantime TfL is searching for a new sponsor for all of its cycling projects.