August 12, 2009 / 1:52 PM / in 10 years

Serco to run London's new bike hire scheme

LONDON (Reuters) - British services giant Serco has secured a 140 million pound contract to set up a bicycle hire scheme in central London that aims to tackle overcrowding on the capital’s commuter networks.

A woman rides a bicycle in Cambridge, central England in this February 20, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Darren Staples/Files

The contract with local travel authority Transport for London (TfL) to install and operate the London Cycle Hire Scheme will run for six years with a possible two-year extension, the company said on Wednesday.

The scheme will allow users to pick up a bike from one of 400 docking stations in London’s 44 square kilometre (16 sq mile) central travel zone, and dock it at another station instead of having to return it to source.

The initiative, which was announced by Mayor and well known cycling enthusiast Boris Johnson in April, is due to be launched next summer and is expected to generate an additional 40,000 bicycle journeys per day in the city.

“We believe that, through our detailed planning and careful design, we have a leading edge scheme which is capable of being rolled out in other cities which are facing many of the same transport challenges,” said Serco’s Chief Executive Officer Christopher Hyman.

Serco, which also operates London’s Docklands Light Railway, will use 6,000 bicycles supplied by Canadian manufacturer Stationnement de Montréal, which provides the equipment for BIXI, a similar project in Montreal.

Canadian newspaper La Presse reported in July that two months after its launch one in five bikes in the Montreal scheme had been vandalised, along with 15 percent of anchorage points.

TfL said it was working with Serco and the bike’s manufacturers to minimise the risks.

“Cycle hire schemes across the world suffer from vandalism, but we are confident about the bicycles and station designs that are being put forward, that they are the most sturdy and the most practical available,” said a TfL spokesperson.

Shares in Serco were up 0.76 percent at 2:39 p.m., in line with the wider FTSE 100 index, up 0.59 percent.

Reporting by Paul Adrian Raymond, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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