Transport for London is hoping to boost use of its cycle hire scheme by simplifying fees.
The current system of graduated charges which increase the longer a bike is used – £1 for up to 1 hour, £4 for up to 1 hour 30 minutes, £6 for up to 2 hours, £10 for up to 2 hours 30 minutes, £15 for up to 3 hours, £35 for up to 6 hours and £50 for up to 24 hours – will be replaced from January by a flat fee of £2 per 30 minutes once the rider has used their initial free half hour period.
In June the Mayor’s chief transport aide, Isabel Dedring, told London Assembly members the current system is “completely confusing” and that TfL research showed simplifying the fees would help attract new users.
In a statement issued on Monday, TfL admitted the current structure has “led to complaints”.
Nick Aldworth, General Manager Cycle Hire, said: “It has always been our priority to make the Cycle Hire scheme easy to use, and we’re acting on our customers’ feedback to make the charge structure simpler.
“After making use of the first free 30 minutes, cyclists will only have to calculate £2 for each further 30 minutes – removing any complexity and confusion.”
TfL’s statement highlights that ridership is up when compared to 2012, however the scheme was expanded into South West London in December 2013 making comparisons inexact.
Support for the scheme plummeted after Mayor Boris Johnson approved a doubling of the annual membership fee to £90, pushing value for money ratings down 19 points in the space of six months.
That hike is believed to account for falling membership numbers which fell from 185,602 in July 2013 to 163,205 in September 2014.
Officials will be hoping the new charging regime revives interest and help push up ridership and membership numbers.
Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, has accused TfL and the Mayor of seeking to “push through increases for many users of the scheme without anyone noticing.”
She added: “To attempt to push through such increases in such an underhand way, just two years after the doubling of fees is insulting in the extreme.
“These further increases in fees should have been included in TfL’s recent annual fare announcement.”
Ms Pidgeon said TfL and City Hall should bring forward plans to add the bike hire scheme to the Oyster network, a move she predicted would deliver “a dramatic increase in users”.