In that time cycling has become a more popular, mainstream way to get around the city which surely marks the scheme as a success, but it’s far from clear that either party got all they expected from the deal.
Barclays has had to sit by and watch as Londoners stubbornly refused to adopt the hire scheme’s formal name – preferring instead ‘Boris bikes’ – while finding its already tarnished brand attached to a number of tragic accidents.
Meanwhile TfL found itself criticised for refusing to publish the sponsorship contract while privately watching the deal’s headline value slowly diminish as payments were reduced in line with falling usage levels and poor performance.
It also, along with the Mayor, endured questions about the probity of the decision to extend the contract with no open contest, only to see the bank walk away at the end of the original term.
A lot of senior and press officer time was spent defending unsustainable claims of commercial confidentiality and thousands of pounds spent delaying and refusing Freedom of Information requests on grounds which were later disproven when information was eventually released.
The refusal to submit the contract to the scrutiny of the London Assembly and media spurred Assembly Members to review the transparency of the Greater London Authority group, with a special focus on TfL.
That process ended with the transport authority pressured by City Hall into making a wide-ranging commitment to adopt a less combative, more transparent approach to its contracts and the disclosure of information.
Today TfL has made good on those promises.
Announcing the start of the process to find a new sponsor, it has already placed significant key information into the public domain – we know the minimum sum it’s seeking from sponsors and what rights are being offered.
As unexciting a development as this may seem, it stands in stark contrast to past refusals to even confirm which boroughs TfL were in talks with and how much money it wanted from each.
And the full tender document will go online next month with more documents, including the final contract, to be published without the trench warfare which eventually revealed the Barclays contract and details of deductions.
It’s pleasing to see TfL has learned the lessons of what has, at times, been a bruising and frustrating process for all concerned and to see it delivering on promises made last year.
All’s not suddenly perfect – some FOIs still get answered late, or are refused on spurious grounds, and there are still individuals who seem to believe their job is to frustrate rather than enlighten.
But today’s clear commitment to an open and transparent tender process is a welcome sign that such attitudes and practices are finally and successfully being challenged from within the organisation.