Transport for London has cancelled and refunded more than half the late return fees levied on users of London’s Cycle Hire scheme.
Figures provided by Mayor Boris Johnson to London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon show that 11,466 Late Return Charges have been levied on scheme users since July 2010.
However when challenged TfL has cancelled and refunded penalties paid by 6,862 users, worth a total of £1,029,300.
The LRC fee of £150 is levied when a scheme member fails to return their hire bike within their paid access period.
However in a written answer, Mayor Johnson says “around 62 per cent of these charges were refunded after mitigating circumstances were taken into account.”
With construction and operating costs expected to rise to £225m by 2015/16, TfL is seeking to shore up the loss-making scheme’s finances.
Earlier this week Mayor Johnson announced the daily, weekly and annual membership fees would double.
Despite a headline sponsorship agreement with Barclays Bank worth up to £50m, the taxpayer is expected to remain the scheme’s majority funder.
Source: Mayor Boris Johnson/Greater London Authority
UPDATE 27th November 2012:
In response to a follow-up question tabled by Green Party AM Darren Johnson in November, the Mayor says:
“In September 2012, 1007 Late Return Charges were made, of which 614 were refunded.”
“In October 2012, 867 Late Return Charges were made, of which 489 were refunded.”
Explaining the high refund rates, the Mayor said:
“A late return charge is applied when a customer has a cycle for longer than 24 hours, or if their access period expires while they still have a bike on hire. TfL reviews all refund requests on a case by case basis, and is happy to offer refunds where, for instance, a customer may have simply misunderstood the scheme and genuinely believed they’d hired a bike for a day or a week.”