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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

London’s ‘Boris bikes’ under threat as transport regulator makes cuts

TfL is facing an operational deficit of £1 billion (Dh5.12bn) next year

The bike hire scheme was brought in while Boris Johnson was Mayor of London. Virginia Mayo/ AP Photo
The bike hire scheme was brought in while Boris Johnson was Mayor of London. Virginia Mayo/ AP Photo

London’s transport regulator is considering eventually phasing out Boris bikes, the capital’s popular bike hire scheme.

The scheme’s bicycles became popularly known as Boris bikes, named after the UK’s foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who was London mayor in 2010 when the scheme was brought in.

The London Evening Standard reported on Friday that Transport for London (TfL) had placed the scheme “under review” as part of cost saving measures.

TfL is facing an operational deficit of £1 billion (Dh5.12bn) next year in part due to the cost of the new railway, the Elizabeth line or Crossrail, which is set to be launched in December.

Falling passenger numbers, a fare freeze enforced by the current mayor Sadiq Khan and the loss of a £700 million central government subsidy have added to the regulator’s financial woes.

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Head of TfL Mike Brown said he would phase out Boris bikes if the regulator feels it cannot continue to justify the £21m a year cost (£3.6m of which was paid for by TfL) and if other dockless bike schemes prove to be popular.

“It still fills a very important role but we have to keep this under review,” Mr Brown told the Evening Standard.

Mr Brown said TfL would “absolutely” be prepared to sell off the Emirates cable car across the Thames, another flagship project launched by Mr Johnson.

The cable car, which opened in 2012, is marginally profitable but has had lower than expected passenger numbers.

However, should it choose to sell the tourist attraction, TfL will have to wait until 2021 when it will have paid back capital receipts on the project and the 10 year sponsorship deal with Emirates comes to an end.

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