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Transport for Edinburgh and Serco sign agreement for new innovative cycle hire scheme for City of Edinburgh

Published: 18 May 2018

Transport for Edinburgh (TfE) and Serco are delighted to announce that they have signed the concession agreement for Serco to introduce and operate the innovative new cycle hire scheme for the City of Edinburgh – with the first bikes due to hit the City’s streets later this summer.

The new cycle scheme is set to transform urban mobility and cycling in the City of Edinburgh as the Serco team brings the best aspects of some of the world’s most successful cycle hire schemes and applications to Edinburgh. The scheme will match elements of Serco’s experience of operating the London Cycle Hire Scheme with the experience of Norwegian bike share developer and operator Urban Infrastructure Partner (UIP) in running the cycle hire schemes in Oslo and Bergen. Using bikes from Serco’s partner on the London scheme Pashley Cycles, Britain’s longest-established cycle manufacturer, Serco will deliver a world-class bike share scheme tailored to the needs of Edinburgh residents, visitors and students.

Building on Serco’s strong existing presence in Scotland providing transport services, as the operator of the Caledonian Sleeper Rail franchise, Scatsta Airport and NorthLink Ferries, the plans for the scheme are designed to boost access to local education and employment opportunities as well as health and leisure services, offering a fun, healthy, affordable, convenient and environmentally friendly new transport option for the City.

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To develop links with education, TfE has a Memorandum of Understanding with The University of Edinburgh, making the University an active partner for the scheme helping to coordinate the engagement of all other Edinburgh Universities and Colleges. The relationship is part of the University’s recently announced plan to be zero carbon by 2040.

The initial three-year concession agreement will deliver 500 manual cycles as well as 100 electric cycles. The first 200 manual cycles will be operational in time for the start of the university academic year, and the number of manual cycles available will increase to 500 by April 2019 along with the intended plan for e-bike hire. Serco and TfE believe that the City can sustain at least 2,000 cycles and the intention is for the scheme to grow incrementally, driven by user demand. It is anticipated that, after an initially successful three years, the scheme will be extended for a further four years.

The cycles themselves are very similar to the new Pashley bikes currently being brought into the cycle scheme in London, although with a redesigned gear set to better suit Edinburgh. They were rigourously tested on the streets of Edinburgh by representatives from The Council, TfE, The University of Edinburgh and Sustrans during the bid evaluation process. Initial roll out of the scheme will start in the the City Centre including at Waverley Station and University of Edinburgh sites. Individuals will be able to hire cyles through an annual membership, on a daily basis, or for shorter periods. The shorter period hire requires further market research to determine if a single ride or perhaps an hour long hire is preferable.

One of the new scheme’s key features will be an innovative hybrid lock – the first of its kind in the UK – which allows for docking at physical docking stations as well as secure dockless parking within designated dockless ‘geofenced’ parking areas. This combination means that users can benefit from the flexibility of a dockless scheme that does not compromise the order of the City’s streets, while also giving users the option of recognisable physical docks.

Powered by data analytics and prediction models, the cycle hire scheme in Edinburgh will ensure optimised usage of each bike and provide maximum access to users across Edinburgh.

Also as part of the plans for the scheme:

  • The Pashley bikes will offer cyclists excellent handling and ride quality, featuring high quality Shimano gears and brakes, comfortable gel saddle, front and rear LED lights, full-length mudguards, puncture resistant tyres (that do not compromise ride quality) and a step-through frame allowing ease-of-use for all cyclists regardless of height. 
  • Customers will be able to hire the bikes using a simple and seamless smartphone app, with hire options available to suit the needs of different users.
  • The bikes will be equipped with UIP’s industry-leading smart technology, including built-in GPS and GSM capability enabling real-time communication between the bike and back office control systems. This will help Serco to ensure the bikes are well-maintained and distributed to the right docking station locations at the right time to meet customer demand.
  • Serco will secure a high-profile sponsor for the scheme, who will provide financial support for the scheme and help to raise the profile of the project across the city.

Announcing the signature of the concession agreement, Transport for Edinburgh Chief Executive George Lowder MBE said:

“Transport for Edinburgh are delighted to have concluded the Concession Agreement with Serco that sets the conditions for a long and successful partnership. At the same time, we have been working with the Serco Team to develop the details of the roll out and the scheme. This collaboration has been hugely positive and productive and we are very much looking forward to the launch of the service in September.”

Angus Cockburn, Serco’s Group Chief Financial Officer, Edinburgh resident and Chair of Serco in Scotland said:

“We are extremely excited to have the opportunity, in partnership with Transport for Edinburgh, to bring to Edinburgh the truly-world class cycle hire scheme that a city of its global standing deserves. At Serco we see a huge potential opportunity to improve urban mobility across the City, helping to support economic growth, reduce traffic congestion, and improve health and wellbeing. We are looking forward to building partnerships with the City’s employers, community organisations and attractions to raise awareness of the scheme as a fun, healthy, easy, environmentally friendly and affordable way to travel. And, as an Edinburgh resident myself I am looking forward to using the new cycle scheme as an easy and accessible means of travelling around the City.”

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport and Environment Convener and Chair of Transport for Edinburgh, said:

“It’s fantastic to see plans for a cycle hire scheme in Edinburgh move one step closer, benefitting from Serco’s expertise in this area.

“We have been keen to introduce a scheme of this kind for some time now, so I’m delighted to see the exciting and innovative plans for its implementation unfold. Once in place, I would expect to see more and more people, residents and businesses alike, use these bikes and e-bikes, alongside our improving and developing cycle infrastructure, to explore Edinburgh on two wheels.”

The University of Edinburgh’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Peter Mathieson, said:

“We are delighted to be an official partner in a scheme that will provide a cheap, healthy and fun way to explore our city. It is an initiative that is in line with our commitment to support our students, staff and visitors to travel by bike, to reduce environmental impact and to promote wellbeing. We are pleased to do our part in helping the City of Edinburgh Council meet its target of 15 per cent of Edinburgh residents cycling to work by 2020.”

Sustrans Scotland National Director, John Lauder, said:

“Sustrans welcomes the introduction of a city-wide bike hire scheme to Edinburgh.

“With higher numbers of people choosing to travel around the capital by bike than ever, it is clear that there is an appetite from residents and visitors to the city for a hire scheme such as this one.

“High-quality bicycle sharing systems not only encourage more people to cycle but increase the number and diversity of visible cycling ‘role models’ helping to make it a more mainstream activity.

“Sustrans is pleased to have worked with Transport for Edinburgh to develop the scheme and we hope it will be a fantastic opportunity for people to explore Edinburgh in a more active and sustainable way.”

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