In today’s report from the London Assembly’s Transport Committee on London’s Cycle Hire both TfL and scheme operator Serco have come in for criticism.
A lack of bikes and available docking points were highlighted in the review, typified by one survey respondent:
“There is a shocking lack of available docking points in Vauxhall and Kennington. Twice I had to cycle further than I had to travel from where I picked the bike up. Once I was told to take the bike home. Not fun to carry up four flights of stairs. I was charged £50…and told to wait five days for a refund.”
TfL and Serco have responded with an improved bike redistribution programme, with Serco doubling the number of staff and vehicles for the purpose. The planned additional docking stations are hoped to help solve the problem too, although these are not scheduled for completion until March.
The report stated: “The Committee welcomes the efforts being made by TfL, Serco and London Boroughs to deliver the planned 400 docking stations, 10,000 docking points and 6,000 bikes. This is crucial to the success of the current scheme. If this installation, combined with the roll-out to casual users, does not address the problems of a lack of bikes and available docking points in certain areas, the Mayor and TfL will need to take other action.”
Registration, customer service and charging were identified as areas in need of improvement. Some users reported difficulties with registration, which Serco said it had now addressed, with staff retrained. There have also been continued issues over users with multiple membership cards who are being charged twice – also being addressed by Serco – and over the firm’s customer service centre.
Half of the survey respondents said they had called Serco’s customer call centre to report a problem, with over one-third rating the experience very poor.
One respondent said: “Fortunately I’ve only ever been overcharged very small amounts but it has been a titanic battle to get anybody to respond substantively to me and one of my overcharges has never been resolved…”
Serco responded and said its all centre was ‘overwhelmed’ in the first months of the scheme launching. The firm has since increased its number of call centre staff.
Read more on the report here.