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.

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.