New arrangements are being sought to run Reading’s bike hire scheme, Readybike. The current contract with the operator ends this summer when the Reading Borough Council (RBC) subsidy ends.
RBC had only received two responses to their invitation for other organisations to run Readybike without any subsidy. Any new operator would be expected to finance the scheme “…by commercial income or alternative funding sources, such as, but not limited to, scheme sponsorship and advertising.”
The procurement process for a new supplier will now begin.
The council expected to save £130k in 2017/18 from withdrawing its subsidy. Sponsorship for the scheme, such as advertising on bikes, has never materialised despite being advertised on the Readybike website.
RBC carried out a consultation in September 2016 and received 175 responses, 45% of which were from service users. The results of the consultation showed:
Overall approximately 14% of respondents were in favour of the proposal to remove the Readybike subsidy whereas 84% were positive about the scheme and therefore supportive of the Council investigating other funding options in order for the scheme to continue. It was unclear whether the remaining 2% of respondents were supportive or unsupportive.
It is not clear if £130k of savings will actually be achieved in 2017/18. The Whitley Pump assumption was that £130k was the full year’s subsidy; the consultation notice said that the subsidy would stop on 14 June 2017 and the policy committee were told “summer 2017”. Consequently, only a proportion of the expected saving may be achieved in the financial year commencing 1 April 2017.
None of the existing docking stations are located in Katesgrove, although there are several options ‘just over the border’ at the new Civic Offices (pictured), at Handmade Burger Co on Oracle Riverside, on Basingstoke Road outside Morrisons and at Christchurch Green near the University.
The scheme began in June 2014 and got funding from central government’s Department for Transport’s ‘local sustainable transport fund’ until March 2016. At the end of the first year, RBC aired proposals for additional docking stations, including one on Whitley Street which never materialised.
- Policy Committee 13 February 2017 – Budget Saving Proposal Consultation Results for the Removal of the Readybike Subsidy
- Readybike sponsorship
- Readybike consultation (closed)
- Strategic Environment Planning and Transport Committee 15 July 2015 – Ready Bike Cycle Hire Scheme – First Year Update
- Readybike gets run over in dash for savings