Santander Cycle Hire – Oyster Integration?

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  • #270
    Chris D.
    Participant

    I always think it’s a missed opportunity that the Santander Cycle Hire scheme has effectively no Oyster integration at all. With the push to encourage active travel, London cycle hire is a slow and frustrating scheme for an infrequent user, often involving several minutes of confusion using an unreliable screen and payment terminal.

    Of course the major blocker to any such attempt is the need to be able to charge £300 for lost bikes. Oyster cards and contactless payment cards are not capable of such charges. I don’t understand who in their right mind would steal one of these heavy bikes, but it indisputably does happen. This may not be soluble but I would note other startups don’t share the same risk assessment. TfL are also moving to add GPS tracking to cycles. A maximum fare could be sufficient to deter casual non return.

    With such obvious advantages – a quick tap-and-go operation that drives casual use, and the potential for further fares integration – I do wonder whether this is an area TfL should be re-examining. I am an annual member of the scheme and use it almost daily for something or another, even if that’s just dodging the mixed-mode Zone 1 fare!

    #272
    Mike (admin)
    Keymaster

    Some interesting thoughts. I’ve unearthed this article where the idea was floated six years ago. Personally I don’t think it’s a starter, but who knows.

    #293
    Miles Thomas
    Participant

    The Santander bikes are stolen quite frequently to facilitate crime using the bicycle (i.e. phone snatches). They are good enough for that task and have the advantage of being anonymous, and potentially hired legitimately (less likely to trigger a police stop and search).

    If you use a payment card or mobile phone payment app for your travels, then the bikes are integrated, in effect.

    The citymapper app/pass does quite a good job of integrating the bikes for people who don’t want to take out an annual subscription, although you have to have one of the high grade passes which includes bike credit, the basic one doesn’t. The pass is really a payment card (mastercard) with the back end rigged up to only accept requests from certain merchant IDs (TfL and other transport, including the bikes), and citymapper recharge the travel to you via your choice of payment card, at a discounted rate compared to TfL cap (but no refunds if you don’t fully get up to the pass/cap value in the week). Because the pass is a payment card, it can also be added to various TFL apps (maybe including the bike app).

    I think the remaining question is why the Bikes are not integrated to the rest of TfL, i.e. if you subscribe and have the keyfob or use the bike app, why couldn’t the keyfob embed an oyster card and share an account, with autotopup, or allow the bike app to act as an oyster card (via the phone NFC payment card capability). There wouldn’t be the £300 loss charge blocker that way round, just needs a change to fob hardware/app.

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