TfL Unable To Predict When Cycle Hire Scheme Will Be Self-Funding

Transport for London (TfL) has said that it doesn’t yet know when the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme will be in a position to fund itself, the MayorWatch blog reported today.

The total cost of the scheme is a closely guarded secret in City Hall. Earlier in the year MayorWatch highlighted that far from Barclays footing the entire bill, in fact Tower Hamlets council had been asked to extract £2m from its coffers to help meet the cost of the eastward expansion. Shepherd’s Bush blog pointed out that Wandsworth council had met with a similar demand.

TfL came under fire in June following the Barclays Libor scandal over the scheme’s reliance on a single sponsor and the ethical implications of sponsors’ actions. The amount of publicity the scheme has generated, both for the bank and for the mayor himself has also been criticised — Dave Hill in the Guardian questioned the cost versus its usefulness while Boris Johnson rarely misses an opportunity to be photographed astride one of the turquoise terrors.

The mayor has never made a secret of the fact that he will increase fares to pay for infrastructure improvements but following the recent rail fare rises putting up fares further to fund a scheme which serves a relatively small number of people won’t sit well with London’s already-squeezed tube users.

Photo by walk away from louisville in the Londonist Flickr pool.

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  • http://twitter.com/atphot AlanT

    They may never be self-funding, and we should prepare for that. They work, keep some people fit, keep some of us off the tube, and maybe reduce a bit of vehicular traffic. So overall I’d say they’re a good thing for London and deserve a bit of funding.

    • http://twitter.com/sparticus Mark Walley

      Couldn’t agree more. It would be great if this could be self-funded while being affordably priced, but it’s a good thing and of benefit to London. If that means it needs long term funding, so be it. Anything that long term is good for a city is going to benefit it’s economy, even if very indirectly.

  • http://www.facebook.com/charlesdickenslondon Chris West

    Yes, I love the scheme and use the bikes regularly- they must be a plus for health and the economy, as already stated- humbug to the people who argue about the cost!

  • Will

    I agree with the rest of the comments, nobody says the tube, the buses or the railways should be self funding so why should the bikes be?

  • http://londonist.com/ Rachel Holdsworth

    I think the main problem with the cycle hire scheme being subsidised by TfL is that Boris Johnson promised in his 2008 manifesto that it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a penny, and it’s proving quite hard to find out just how much taxpayers will pay. I agree that public transport is worthy of public subsidy, but if public funds are involved then the project needs more public scrutiny. Unfortunately, due to the sponsorship contracts, that might not be possible. (Similar contracts are in place for the cable car.)

    • BethPH

      This, basically. Promising that fairly niche (albeit worthy) transport schemes won’t be funded by the taxpayer, then leaving TfL holding the baby shouldn’t become commonplace, IMO, and it appears to be going that way more. As Rachel highlights too, relying too heavily on corporate sponsorship results in a lack of visibility and leaves both TfL and transport users vulnerable both financially and from an ethical point of view.

  • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

    They should put the price up by at least 100% for PAYG users. It’s far too cheap as it is.