London’s transport commissioner Mike Brown has told the Evening Standard that the Santander cycle hire scheme is "under review". Transport for London has to make budget savings because it will have its £700 million government grant withdrawn this year.
Brown didn’t rule out dismantling the ‘Boris bike’ hire scheme. He told the newspaper that it had fulfilled its primary role of getting more Londoners cycling.
He said: "It still fills a very important role but we have to keep this under review."
The docked cycle hire scheme is expensive to run and expensive to expand. Meanwhile, the more flexible dockless bikes from Mobike, Ofo and Urbo are steadily spreading in London – these schemes do not carry a cost for municipalities.
The Evening Standard said that Brown was looking at the popularity of dockless bike hire schemes and whether TfL can continue to justify the cost of the docked scheme, which was £21 million last year, of which TfL paid £3.6 million.
However, London’s walking and cycling commissioner has tweeted that there are "no plans" to mothball the docked scheme.
Will Norman implied that, in effect, Brown had been misquoted.
There are categorically no plans to phase out the @santandercycles – they are a great success and last year saw a record amount of journeys. Mike Brown was suggesting we work with partners to incorporate the lasted innovations to make them even better.
— Will Norman (@willnorman) March 16, 2018
And the Mayor of London’s press office has also weighed in, saying there are "categorically no plans" to phase out Santander Cycles.
There are categorically no plans to phase out the @santandercycles – they are a great success and last year saw a record number of journeys.
— Mayor's Press Office (@LDN_pressoffice) March 19, 2018