The expansion of London’s bike hire scheme into Wandsworth is set to go live next month.
Around 60 docking stations have been installed across the north of the borough in Battersea, Wandsworth Town and Putney with the majority opening to scheme members on December 13th.
Wandsworth council says the remainder of docking stations will be activated “by spring 2014.”
Cllr Russell King, Wandsworth’s transport spokesman, said: “The scheme will be a valuable addition to our transport network which can help reduce traffic jams and ease overcrowding on our tubes, trains and buses.
“We see this extension as the first step towards complete borough-wide coverage. The job’s not done until every home is within easy reach of a Boris bike.”
The council is offering free safety training to help residents gain the skills and confidence they need to use the bikes.
The docking stations and bikes were partially funded by local taxpayers after Transport for London told Wandsworth that expansion into the borough was “conditional on the council making a financial contribution of £2 million.”
Wandsworth is one of several local councils propping up the loss-making scheme’s finances.
Headlines sponsor Barclays, previously revealed to be only a minority funder of the scheme, has reduced the sum it’s paying by £1.5m following poor performance while TfL deducted £2.6m from scheme operator Serco’s payments after it failed to meet Key Performance Indicators.
TfL bosses had previously warned the company that it risked “significant financial penalties” over empty docking stations.
The expansion into Wandsworth will help boost flagging usage numbers, caused in part by TfL and the Mayor’s decision to double membership fees.
Internal TfL surveys show the hike was a key driver in users deciding to cancel their membership.
Official figures show that usage in August, September and October of this year was markedly below the same months in 2012.
Usage in August fell from 1,163,171 hires in 2012 to 904,155, with September’s hires falling from 1,015,145 to 701,656 and October from 856,866 in 2012 to 674,154 last month.
This article was updated on December 2nd 2013 to more fully detail TfL’s past warnings to Serco over its performance and reductions in the sums paid to it by TfL for missing KPIs after the company objected to the linking of its failures to Barclays’ decision to reduce the maximum sponsorship sum.