London's Boris Bikes Might be Shut Down [Update: Mayor's Office Denies]

By Tom Pritchard on at

Update: The London Mayor's office has denied that Boris Bikes will be phased out. Instead it's been in touch to say Comissioner Brown was actually talking about incorporating technology from other bike-sharing schemed to improve them.

Original story follows:

London's been home to the sponsored cycle hire scheme, casually known as the Boris Bikes for nearly eight years now, but it looks like their days might be numbered. According to TfL they could be phased out in the future, alongside the Boris Johnson's ill-advised cable car across the Thames which could be sold off.

Transport Commissioner Mike Brown spoke to the London Evening Standard about the two, confirming that the cable car may be sold off in the future and that the bike hire could be "eventually phased out". He also denied that Transport for London was facing a financial crisis, though admitted there will be some challenges ahead as a result of losing its £700 million grant from the government.

TfL did save £135 million last year, though, with more cuts likely in the future. Among those cuts include having "paused" upgrades of the Piccadilly and Jubilee lines, scrapping non-essential road works (hooray!), and reviews of up to 6,000 jobs and the flagship projects launched by former Mayor Boris Johnson - including the cable car and the bikes.

The Emirates Cable Car system has experienced lower passenger number than initially expected, and even though it remains "marginally" profitable Brown is still open to selling it in 2021 after it's paid back capital receipts. That also happens to be the same time the 10-year sponsorship deal with Emirates airline expires.

Apparently the Boris Bikes have fulfilled their purpose of getting more Londoners cycling, and the final decision to get rid of them or not will hinge on the popularity of other dockless bike-sharing services and whether TfL can justify the ongoing costs. Those costs were £21 million last year, of which TfL contributed £3.6 million.

There are an increasing number of dockless bike-sharing companies out there, though their eventual success inevitably relies on people being responsible and not dumping the hired bicycles in the nearest canal. [Standard]

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