1,400 more electric 'Boris bikes' for London as TfL recharges bid to dominate cycle hire market

The number of electric-powered hire bikes on London’s streets is to increase with an additional 1,400 e-bikes due to be added to the “Boris bike” fleet.

Transport for London on Monday announced that it will look to more than double the 600 battery-powered bikes already in its fleet as it responds to wider changes in demand for hire bikes.

It also announced plans for a £3 daily fee for its conventional bikes from March in a bid to reverse falling usage levels.

Use of TfL’s 12,000-strong fleet of traditional pedal-powered bikes, first introduced in 2010 when Boris Johnson was mayor, has fallen sharply since a price hike was implemented by Mayor Sadiq Khan in 2022.

By comparison, Lime’s fleet of dockless e-bikes are proving increasingly popular, and have more flexible payment options – though the way the dockless bikes are often discarded on pavements has sparked a multitude of complaints.

In comparison, Boris bikes can only be hired and parked at docking stations. A 30-minute ride costs £1.65, or £3.30 for an e-Boris bike.

TfL said the 1,400 new e-bikes would be added to its fleet by the summer. It is believed they will replace worn-out manual bikes.

Latest figures show there were 664,981 Boris bike hires last November, well down on the 725,556 a year earlier. Figures for last August showed an even bigger drop – from 1,259,932 hires to 778,336.

TfL says demand for its e-bikes “continues to exceed availability”, with more than 750,000 hires since they were introduced in October 2022.

On average, 1,664 e-hires happen daily – but there were 2,529 on September 14, the busiest day of last year.

The new £3 “day pass” will launch on March 3, allowing unlimited hires of up to 30 minutes within a 24 hour period for pedal-powered bikes. Hires longer than 30 minutes incur an extra £1.65 for each additional 30 minutes.

David Eddington, TfL’s head of cycle hire, said: “Santander Cycle e-bike usage in the capital is now more popular than ever so these additional e-bikes will allow more people to be able to access them.

“We've also listened to our customers regarding our fare tariff and are introducing a daily pass to give people making multiple journeys in a day certainty about the overall cost of using the scheme.”

Mr Khan said: "The e-bikes have proved hugely popular since they were introduced and help break down the barriers that stop some people from cycling. The new day pass rate will also make Santander bikes one of the most affordable ways to travel in the capital.”

Prior to the 2022 fare changes it cost £2 for a "day pass" or £90 for annual membership, which gives unlimited to access to the bikes for 30 minutes at a time. The day pass was scrapped while the annual membership rose to £120.

Tony Devenish, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, said: “I’m delighted Sadiq Khan has finally seen the light and is re-introducing a day pass for Boris Bikes.

“Sadiq Khan and TfL have come close to killing off Boris bikes which are much loved by Londoners. Demand has plummeted 35 per cent since TfL changed the pricing structure in 2022. There were 2.2 million fewer bike hires between July and September 2023 compared to the same period last year.

“TfL blamed ‘inclement weather’ for this drop but today’s U-turn confirms poor leadership from Sadiq Khan is to blame.”