London boroughs paying up to £2 million each to bring in Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme

Figures revealed as scheme prepares for next wave of expansion into South and West London

by Simon_MacMichael   February 1, 2013  

London Cycle Hire Scheme Bikes On Docking Station (copyright Simon MacMichael).jpg

Transport for London is charging boroughs up to £2 million to bring the Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme within their boundaries, reports the London Evening Standard. The news comes as the scheme, launched in July 2010, prepares for its second phase of expansion, which will take it into the London Borough of Wandsworth for the first time as well as increasing its footprint elsewhere in South and West London.

According to the newspaper, the cash from the boroughs concerned is being sought to help offset the construction costs required to install docking stations, with the newspaper pointing out that to date, scheme sponsor Barclays has paid only £13.4 million of the total £50 million it has pledged to provide over the eight-year term of the deal.

Those figures were published in December by the website MayorWatch, which described the scheme as a financial “black hole,” saying it said would cost London’s taxpayers £225 million by 2015/16, although it should be noted that the money paid by Barclays during the first two years is in line with what might be expected assuming the payments were to be staggered equally across all eight years.

It’s the up-front costs however that seem to be causing the problems, and news of the cash input required from boroughs comes after the cost to use the scheme doubled last month, with 24-hour access, for example, rising from £1 to £2.

In the next wave of expansion, due for completion by Spring next year and seeing 265 new docking stations come into operation and 2,000 more bikes taking the total to 10,000, Wandsworth is the only borough that will welcome the scheme for the first time. It will pay TfL £2 million, according to the Standard, with the bikes deployed in Battersea, Putney and Wandsworth town itself.

The borough’s transport spokesman, Councillor Russell King, commented: “We want this extension to be the first step towards borough-wide coverage.”

Also stumping up a reported £2 million is Hammersmith & Fulham, where currently, the cycle hire zone only covers the area around the Westfield shopping centre at Shepherds Bush.

Those figures are higher than the £1.9 million that Tower Hamlets paid when the scheme was extended eastwards ahead of last summer’s Olympic Games.

Lambeth, where Boris Bikes at the moment are only found in the northern half of the borough, will pay £200,000 to expand it southwards, while Kensington & Chelsea, which is expanding the scheme into some parts of the borough not covered by the original hire zone, is spending £400,000.

The Standard reports that currently, 36 planning applications for the new docking stations have been granted out of 150 submitted to date, with TfL commissioner Sir Peter Hendy saying: “The scheme is generally well supported and most sites are not attracting significant objections.

“The team are working closely with the boroughs to address concerns in some sensitive and high-profile areas, as there is a risk of gaps in the network if these sites are reviewed.”

Although no further expansion of the scheme has yet been announced, it has been mooted to take it to some town centres in Outer London boroughs.