Wednesday, 22 August 2012

60 Minutes Free for Boris Bike Registered Members - Idea for a New Tariff

I would like to propose changing the BCH tariff system so that registered members have the first 60 minutes free, rather than the first 30 minutes. What follows is an analysis about why this is a good idea:

ADVANTAGES

  • Increase numbers cycling on Boris Bikes, especially over longer journeys.
  • Addresses social issues:
    • Current 30 minute cap means that less athletic members of the population find it harder to get the 23kg bikes around the city in 30 minutes and are being financially discriminated against by the existing tariff. A 60 minutes free period would encourage a much broader section of the population attempt journeys over 5km on the (comparatively slow) Boris Bikes.
    • Current 30 minute cap also favours users that either work in the City or live in a (usually very affluent) area of Central London, e.g. Marble Arch, from where it is much easier to make a 30 minute journey to another Central London destination than from, say, Sheperd's Bush. A 60 minute cap will encourage those with residential access to bikes in parts of London further from the centre (and usually less affluent) to get cycling as they face no financial penalty for making a longer journey. Current scheme criticised for not being 'inclusive' enough. This is the solution.
  • Increase revenue:
    • 60 minute cap creates a tariff incentive to casual users to register for the year, increasing BCH revenue.
    • Over 95% of journeys are made in under 30 minutes now anyway so the increase of the cap to 60 minutes will have a negligible negative impact on revenues in that area since tariff revenues for a 30-60 minutes journey are already so insignificant a part of BCH revenues.
    • Increasing use of bikes (both in terms of total journeys and average journey length) will mean that Barclays will be contractually obliged pay TfL more in sponsorship.
  • Decreases congestion at Docking Station rental point terminals:
    • More registered users means that more people will be getting bikes out directly with keys which will help reduce journey times for all users.
  • Realistic time-frame for implementation:
    • The BCH scheme is due to be expanded in 2013 so tariff change could easily be integrated into these already planned changes.
  • Health benefits:
    • Tariff will resulted in longer average journey distances meaning those using the Boris Bikes will be fitter than before with obesity, diabetes, etc. improvements.
  • New York cycle hire scheme has a dual tariff system giving a larger amount of time free to registered members so it is definitely possible.
  • A dual tariff for tube and bus journeys has been incredibly effective at getting Londoners to overwhelming switch to Oyster. Dual tariff for Boris Bikes could be equally effective at getting Londoners to register for the years rather than just being casual users (meaning they are likely to make far more casual journeys with the bikes since they've already paid membership for the year).
  • Better behaved cyclists:
    • Boris Bikers will no longer have a time pressure to get their bikes back in under 30 minutes, and since few will want to cycle for longer than 60 minutes, Boris Bikers will, on average, become less agressive cyclist (jumping red lights etc.).
  • Government can present change in tariff as part of Olympic 'Legacy' for utility cycling in London so the move would be very politically expedient.
    • Barclays could even decide to fund the change themselves causing no extra cost to the tax payer which would be a good publicity boost for the bank after the LIBOR scandal.
  • Never underestimate the economic power of 'free' as opposed to £1.
60 minutes free would persuade this young lady to become a registered (rather than casual) user.
DISADVANTAGES

  • More bikes in use at any one time leading to increased pressure on the system.
    • SOLUTION:
      • By only extending 60 minute free tariff to registered users this problem will be minimised. Tourists and casual users who are most likely to leave bikes in the park etc. (and therefore out of use) will still only have 30 minutes free in order to keep enough bikes in circulation.
      • Increase the size of the docking stations around London which already experience high usage. Increasing the size of an existing docking station is significantly cheaper and easier than building a new one and also helps ease problems with stations either having no bikes or no spaces at certain times of the day. Current average is 14 bikes per dock. This could easily be increased to an average of 20 bikes per dock.
  • Initial cost of implementation.
    • SOLUTION:
      • Persuade Barclays to pay because it will be good publicity for them.

If you too would like to use the Boris Bikes for 60 minutes for free as a registered user than why not drop TfL a line and let them know (then, they might just change the tariff in 2013!):

BarclaysCycleHire@TfL.gov.uk

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Click here for a BBC article about how cycle blogging lead directly to positive change with the creation of Boris Johnson's 'Cycling Vision for London'.