Dublin city’s popular cycling scheme, Dublinbikes, has seemingly been going from strength to strength since its conception back in 2009.
So much so that it’s rare you go down a Dublin street without seeing one. Today, the scheme is hailed as one the of most successful in the world. However, it’s still losing money.
The scheme broke even for a number of years before running a deficit in 2015. This shortfall has halted needed expansion plans, while organisers seek new ways to cover basic operating costs.
Dublinbikes has tripled in size since 2009 to 1,500 bikes and 101 stations. This is tiny in comparison to London (11,500 bikes) or Paris (23,600 bikes) but this is leaving with it a €376,000 shortfall that Dublin council says it cannot afford.
Regardless of that, organisers hold ambitious plans to expand the network to 5,000 bikes and 300 stations across the city within 10 years.
Project manager, Michael Rossiter has come out and said:
Other bike schemes get major support from the government but with Dublinbikes we kind of have to run it ourselves. So if people want the scheme to grow to its full extent, hard decisions have to be made about priorities.
Could Dublin City Council justify taking the money it needs to expand and run the scheme from elsewhere in the budget, and prioritise themselves overmuch more pressing crises?
It seems the customer may have to take the hit.
Annual subscription fees have been raised already, and if they are raised much more, they could become too expensive for residents on lower incomes. While an increase might help the existing programme break even again, Michael Rossiter states that it wouldn’t meet the ongoing costs of expanding and managing a larger scheme.