Wolverhampton's 'Boris bikes' to be withdrawn as contract ended

Wolverhampton’s ‘Boris bikes’ will be withdrawn from service before the end of September as bosses seek a new contractor to resurrect the failed scheme.

Mayor Andy Street (centre) helped launch the nextbikes scheme
Mayor Andy Street (centre) helped launch the nextbikes scheme

Over the next eight weeks the city’s 25 bikes will be taken off the roads and their docking stations ripped out following West Midlands Mayor Andy Street’s decision to terminate the contract of provider nextbike.

Transport bosses at the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) are said to be in no rush to appoint a new contractor, with the focus being on “getting it right” after a disastrous launch which saw nextbike ditched for failing to fulfil its contract.

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It is understood that Mr Street remains determined to run a region wide bike share scheme involving the Black Country, Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull.

German firm nextbike was supposed to put 5,000 cycles for hire on the streets of the West Midlands but managed just 25, all in Wolverhampton.

The scheme was also plagued by low usage, with an average of just seven rides a day taking place across the city.

Wolverhampton Council leader Ian Brookfield, the WMCA’s lead for economy and innovation, said: “This city has a great cycling heritage and as a council we are keen to see more people using bikes.

“The combined authority wants people to have access to a bike scheme and is committed to appointing the right contractor for the job.”

Hampered

Nextbike says its progress was hampered by technology issues and a struggle to bring in sponsors to fund the £2.6 million needed to run the operation.

The firm, which runs schemes in Cardiff, Glasgow and Stirling, said it had been prepared to announce a major sponsor at the time it lost the contract.

The scheme has been championed by Mr Street, who said at its launch in February that it was a key part of a “revolution” in public transport that includes new tram routes and proposed rail stations in Darlaston and Willenhall.

“Encouraging more people to cycle ­- and offering this bike share scheme - is a key part of our plans to tackle pollution, congestion and improve health in the region,” he said at the time.

Another major part of the plans – the development of rapid bus services – has also hit trouble, with the WMCA bringing down the guillotine on a planned route through Walsall.

In Wolverhampton, docking stations and bikes will be removed from the following locations: St Peter’s Square, Cleveland Street, outside the market, in front of Sainsbury’s on Ring Road St Mark’s and outside The Way Youth Zone.

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