The cost of allowing cyclists to hire a bike using their Oyster card would be “prohibitive” according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
In 2014 Assembly Members were told by Isabel Dedring, transport deputy to Boris Johnson, that extending Oyster to the Santander Cycles scheme could boost usage by up to 25%.
However AMs also heard that such a move could not be implemented under the current contract with Serco, which manages the scheme for Transport for London, and would need to wait until after the contract had been re-let.
Hopes that Oyster would be rolled out to the hire scheme were fuelled by TfL’s decision to break the contract up into distinct lots, with billing and customer service functions split from the provision and maintenance of bikes and docking stations.
A July 2015 report to TfL’s Finance and Policy Committee said the move away from a single contractor would “facilitate early integration with TfL’s Oyster and Contactless Payment Card (CPC) back office systems” and “support the potential installation of Oyster and CPC readers at docking stations in the future.”
The potential upgrade looked to have survived the change of mayoralty when in June this year, in response to a question from Conservative AM Tony Arbour, Mayor Khan said he intended “to integrate cycle hire more fully into TfL’s payment systems.”
He added: “Options TfL are examining include offering customers a single on-line account for cycle hire and public transport, and bringing cycle hire into Oyster and contactless payment capping.”
However asked by Liberal Democrat AM Caroline Pidgeon on Wednesday for an update, Mr Khan said the cost of retrofitting Oyster readers to docking stations would be “prohibitive”.
TfL says it maintains a longterm ambition to make the scheme easier and more flexible to use, but confirmed there are no current plans to introduce Oyster.