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Boris bikes for tourists delayed till year end

Systems not robust enough

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Visitors to London, and anyone else without a full account, will not be able to hire Boris bikes until the end of the year.

The bicycle hire scheme was meant to be opening to all comers at the end of July. But problems with systems mean you will need to have a UK address and credit card, register for an account and wait for an RFID key to arrive in the post. Casual users will not have access to the bikes until the end of this year.

Transport for London said: "The Mayor and TfL want to ensure the operating and distribution systems the scheme operator, Serco, has in place are as robust as possible before rolling it out further."

Boris Johnson's transport adviser Kulveer Ranger told the Standard that software to allow an account to be created simply by swiping a credit card at a docking station was at least a month from being ready.

He warned the freesheet of the likelihood of more problems in the next week or so as people return from holidays.

Despite early wobbles, the system seems to mostly work. 70,000 people have registered and made an average of five journeys each since launch. About 17,000 journeys a day are now being made.

Early problems with locked rear brakes seem to have been addressed although there are still complaints that the bikes are geared too low.

Most of the complaints on forums are to do with bike distribution - either getting hold of a bike or finding any empty space in a rack near your destination. The fact that the system won't accept Oyster cards used by the rest of the transport network has also annoyed some.

TfL also said today that 93 per cent of journeys are under 30 minutes so riders are only paying their access fee. To use the scheme you pay an access fee - £1 a day, £5 a week or £45 a year, then pay a timed charge, after a free initial half hour.

20 more docking stations were finished this month, giving a total of 335 around central London. TfL hopes to have all 400 finished by the end of the year. ®

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