Tfl to add 500 e-bikes to Santander cycle-hire scheme as costs rise

<span>Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA</span>
Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Transport for London is to relaunch its cycle-hire scheme with the addition of e-bikes next month – but will increase charges for some users to meet rising costs.

The long-established initiative, which was used a record 1.3m times last month, will be boosted by 500 electric bicycles from 12 September.

Users can dock the e-bikes at any of the 800 existing docking stations in central London.

The e-bikes will cost £3.30 for 30 mins – double the new £1.65 rate for an ordinary Santander cycle hire, which now matches the price of a bus fare.

TfL said the introduction of e-bikes was a mark of the scheme’s growing popularity and financial sustainability. Usage has increased sharply since the pandemic, with more than 1 million people hiring bikes in the capital in 2021, the first time that number has been achieved.

The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, said building a greener city meant making cycling as accessible as possible. He said the new bikes would “play an important role in helping to break down some of the barriers that stop people from getting on a bike, including fitness, age and length of journey”.

David Eddington, TfL’s head of cycle hire, said the scheme was a vital part of London’s transport system, adding: “The new bikes, alongside our simpler new tariff, will ensure the scheme can build on this success and be financially sustainable.”

A number of commercial operators led by Lime offer e-bike hire in the capital, without the docks and wider infrastructure of TfL’s scheme. Some, such as Dott and Human Forest, are limited to particular boroughs.

The price of hiring ordinary Santander bikes will rise for some users, although a one-off journey will be cut in price to £1.65 for 30 minutes, in the first significant overhaul of charges in almost a decade.

TfL said it was simplifying the scheme in response to customer feedback. The daily access charge of £2 will be scrapped but each ride will incur a charge.

However, a new monthly membership option, costing £20, will be introduced for unlimited 60-minute rides, while an annual membership will rise to £120.

Only registered users will be able to hire e-bikes, with members paying an additional fare of £1 for 60 minutes.