In deference to the impending Christmas festivities, let’s start with the good news and note both that “overall satisfaction has reached a record high level score of 71” and that “advocacy has also increased this wave to 78” although it remains below the levels seen in earlier surveys.
To which we can add the news that “satisfaction with the availability of bikes has increased significantly to reach a record high score of 58 (from 55)”and that “just over two thirds intend to renew their membership”, slightly higher than the previous survey.
But after that it all starts to get a little less positive.
The percentage who believe the scheme offers value for money “has dropped significantly to 66 (from 79)” because of January’s price increase.
In a nice statement of the obvious, the survey’s authors report that “those who joined the scheme after the increases were less likely to be dissatisfied.”
This is hardly shocking, people who join a voluntary scheme at a new higher price are hardly going to do so if they think that price is too high.
Of those who were dissatisfied with value for money, “just under 60% say the bike hire is too expensive” compared with 40% in the previous survey.
This is important because it means Transport for London and the Mayor are going to find it very difficult to plug the scheme’s finances by making users pay more in future years.
The chart below shows the answers people gave when asked whether they intended to renew their membership:
TfL appears to have introduced a new answer to allow people to say they would renew as a member but move from their current membership level (which TfL refers to as their access period).
Subsequent questioning of those giving this as an answer reveals that “43% of the annual members would switch to 24 hour” which correlates with a recent TfL report admitting that user revenue hasn’t increased by as much as originally expected.
And “among the 16% who do not intend to renew their membership, the cost is the main barrier (mentioned by 80%).”
But it’s not all about price, 37% blamed “poor availability of spaces at docking station” and 30% fingered “poor availability of bikes” and further down the survey (Page 32) we learn that “most customers (70%) have failed to find a bike at their first choice docking station in the last month, an increase from 58% in Wave 5.”
“Nearly three quarters then tried a different docking station, rather than give up” but that still leaves a sizeable minority who didn’t.
And “satisfaction with availability of spaces has now dropped to its lowest level. Those saying space availability has got worse still outnumber those saying it has improved.”
More performance-related bad news:
“Over three quarters failed to find a space to return the bike in the last month, an increase from 61% in Wave 5.”
“More than half have experienced a problem with a bike or docking station that has prevented them starting or completing a journey in the last 6 months.”
“Satisfaction with the bikes themselves has declined slightly since Wave 5, continuing the downward trend.”
Users are most unhappy with faults on the bikes and the performance of the gears which “seem to be mentioned more often than other aspects.”
Perhaps more worryingly, 35% express concern over the “upkeep / maintenance” of the brakes:
Clearly TfL and scheme operator Serco have lots of improving to do if they’re to hold onto members and, of importance to Serco shareholders, avoid further fines.
Even where there’s good news – overall satisfaction with the last trip has recovered from the previous poll’s drop – it’s offset by “higher levels of negative feedback this year, with 80% mentioning at least one issue, compared to only 65% last year.”
Does the above tale of woe give us greater insight into Barclays’ decision to walk away from the scheme?