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Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme a financial "black hole" for TfL, says London website

MayorWatch says Boris bikes will have cost £225m by 2015/16; scheme fees double in new year

The Barclays Cycle Hire Scheme has been described as a financial “black hole” for Transport for London (TfL) by a London website which discovered that Barclays Bank has so far paid £13.43 million of the £50 million it is due to pay to TfL by 2018 for its sponsorship of the scheme, representing just a small proportion of its cost.

The website, MayorWatch, which obtained that details under a Freedom of Information Act request, also discovered that by 2015/16, the scheme will have cost the capital’s taxpayers £225 million, with TfL unable to say when it might break even.

The money paid by Barclays "up to the end of the 2012 financial year," according to TfL, represents a little over a quarter of that £50 million due over the eight years of the agreement, in line with what you would expect assuming the payments are staggered equally throughout the period.

The scheme came into operation in July 2010, with Barclays having earlier been named as its sponsor, but the state of the its finances is said to be one of the reasons why membership costs are due to double in the new year. That is expected to bring in an extra £6 million a year.

MayorWatch also reports that TfL is looking to London boroughs that want the scheme to expand into their territory to plug some of the gap by providing £2 million from their already stretched budgets.

TfL however declined to respond to a Freedom of Information request on that specific issue, saying that providing such information would “would adversely affect TfL’s ability” to obtain such contributions, “and therefore would be likely to prejudice TfL’s commercial interests.”

Earlier this year a major expansion of the scheme into South West London was announced, and there are also proposals in the pipeline for it to be rolled out to town centres in Outer London.

The MayorWatch website includes details of its exchange of correspondence with TfL.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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