THE future of ReadyBike – Reading’s public bicycle hire scheme – has been secured after Hourbike won a new contract to operate and maintain it for at least the next three years.
ReadyBike users will continue to be able to hire one of 200 bikes across the network after existing operators Hourbike were awarded the contract following a detailed procurement process by the Council. It means Hourbike will continue to deliver ReadyBike for a minimum term of three years, from 1st September this year, on a commercial basis and with no financial support from the Council or the council tax payer.
As part of the new contract, Hourbike is proposing to review the number of rentals at existing docking stations to ensure the scheme is commercially viable. Lesser used docking stations may be relocated to new areas. There are no plans to reduce the number of bikes available.
As part of its future plans Hourbike also intend to further investigate plans to extend ReadyBike into West Reading, including a potential docking station at Battle Library on the Oxford Road.
Over the last few months, Hourbike has secured several sponsorship deals with nationally recognised brands. They will now be concentrating on securing additional and longer sponsorship deals. More information on sponsorship packages is available from www.readybike.co.uk/sponsorship.
ReadyBike has allowed over 14,500 users to cycle over 357,000 miles, across 29 docking stations and making nearly 80,000 journeys, since the scheme launched in June 2014.
Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:
“Today’s announcement that Hourbike has been awarded the contract to operate and maintain the scheme secures the future of ReadyBike for the foreseeable future.
“As the existing operators of the scheme, the company has built up more than three years of experience in operating a bike hire scheme in Reading and I am sure ReadyBike will go from strength to strength.
“As part of the contract the Council was keen to see any potential operator look again at the locations of docking stations with a view to creating new ones, particularly in west Reading and the Oxford Road where there is certainly the demand. I am pleased that this is something Hourbike is actively investigating while looking to relocate some of the less well used docking stations.”
Tim Caswell, of ReadyBike contractors Hourbike, said:
“We are delighted to be able to continue our vision for ReadyBike, encouraging more people to cycle short journeys around town rather than take the car. Many of our customers such as university students and commuters rely on the service, and we are very happy to continue to provide it.”
ReadyBike was launched in June 2014 following a successful £25 million bid to the Department for Transport’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF). The grant covered the initial costs and operation up to March 2016 when the Council started subsidising the scheme at a cost of approximately £130,000 a year.
The removal of the ReadyBike subsidy was identified as a budget saving proposal in July 2016 and followed with a month-long public consultation resulting in 14% responses in support of the proposal to removal the subsidy and 84% in support of the scheme continuing to operate. The recommendation to remove the subsidy and invite contractors to deliver the service beyond August 2017 was reported to Policy Committee in February 2017. The new contract was advertised in June 2017.