Serco, operator of the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme in London, has announced that it has been awarded a further £50 million contract by Transport for London (TfL) as it prepares to expand the scheme into the east of the capital next year. Additional docking stations will be made available in West London and elsewhere in the area covered by the scheme, which became operational in July 2010.
As well as expanding the scheme into the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Serco will also be installing new docking stages in the area around the Westfield Shopping Centre at Shepherds Bush, an area not currently served by the scheme, and increasing capacity elsewhere in the network.
Those measures will add more than 200 docking stations with around 4,500 new docking points, with 2,300 additional bicycles being made available to users of the scheme, which currently has some 400 docking stations and 6,000 ‘Boris bikes.’
The first year of the scheme’s operation saw it encounter a number of teething issues, including difficulties in managing traffic at docking stations, with many at major transport hubs being empty in the morning rush hour and full in the evening, system crashes and a number of users being billed incorrectly, leading TfL to present Serco with a “critical improvement plan” in June this year.
However, the two organisations have worked together to make improvements to it including taking on extra operational staff, increasing the availability of bikes and establishing storage facilities at Waterloo and Kings Cross stations so that docking stations at those high-use locations can be quickly replenished at peak times.
Chris Hyman, Chief Executive of Serco Group, commented: "We are delighted to be expanding our partnership with Transport for London and the service that we will be providing to the city.
“We have made a number of developments to the scheme over the past year and are committed to continually improving the quality of the service that we are providing,” he added.
“This addition further expands the range of transport operations that Serco delivers on behalf of our customers to passengers and users in the UK and internationally."
This expanded contract broadens the range of transport solutions that Serco provides in London where it already operates the Docklands Light Railway, the Woolwich Ferry, Blackwall Tunnel under the Thames and maintains traffic signals for Transport for London.
The value of the original contract awarded to Serco for the first six years of the scheme’s operation was £140 million.
Membership fees and hire charges from both members and casual users go directly to TfL, as does income from Barclays’ five-year sponsorship of the scheme, worth £25 million.
Ultimately, it is envisaged that the scheme will be TfL’s only self-funding operation.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.