The Barclays Cycle Hire scheme roll out to casual users – expected at the start of this month – has been delayed for months.
Currently the hire initiative is available only to members only with a Cycle Hire key – now numbering 70,000. Non-members were initially told they’d gain access to the scheme four weeks after members, but Transport for London have delayed the roll out to a vague ‘by the end of the year’.
The delay is down to the scheme’s popularity, which is seeing around 17,000 journeys made every weekday. TfL said it wants to ensure the scheme – and the system's operator Serco has in place – are robust enough to cope with the added demand expected when it opens to casual users.
The news is likely to be a blow to Londoners hoping to use the scheme to avoid the London Underground strikes this week.
“Having a key to this scheme is just like having the keys to the city itself, and our members are embracing the scheme and the freedom it offers them in their tens of thousands,” said Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.
“Cycle hire has been a huge success, with unprecedented demand, and I want to ensure that when we open the scheme up to casual users we do not do it to the detriment of those pioneers who have been with us from the beginning.
“By waiting until later this year we can learn about how people use the scheme, and it will allow Serco to address any remaining teething problems because I want to ensure that a high quality experience is maintained for every cycle ride.”
David Brown, MD of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “Barclays Cycle Hire bikes have become a familiar and popular sight on the streets of central London in the past month, and are transforming the way people get around, and get to know, the Capital.
“These are early days for Barclays Cycle Hire, and we are still working with our operator, Serco, to learn about and improve the scheme before opening it up to casual users. This new form of public transport is already proving hugely popular - with over 70,000 Londoners already signed up as members.
“Our approach will mean that those using one of our bikes experience the very best service possible.”