back to article Brave new Boris-bikers banjaxed by broken boxes

Admittedly it is -2 degrees with flurries of snow in London today so hiring a Boris Bike is probably the farthest thing from anyone's mind, but the launch of the hire bike scheme for non-registered users today has been hit by another Serco system failure. Teething problems at launch delayed the opening of the system to all but …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. davemcwish
    Paris Hilton

    No surprising really.....

    as their other contract is to provide transport for HM Prison Service for which they are not supposed to release anything.

    Paris - well obvious really

    1. Puck

      quite so

      Not being able to walk long distances, I rely on the bikes when I'm in London. I havespent many hours on the phone with Serco in tears because they just cannot make the bikes work reliably for me, at any point. Out of the 20 or 30 staff with whom I have spoken,only one ever had the curiosity or mindset of responsibility, to think of escalating/forwarding to tech support, the bizarre and inexplicable problems I was encountering.

      I hope Peter Hendy, commissioner for TFL, realises,his contract is likely in the wrong hands.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it is just a case of Serco's public spirit

    - reducing the number of bikes on the road is a good thing for everyone.

    1. Nickd

      re: public spirit

      Right, because after all what we need is more cars on the road instead

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I never said we needed more cars

        Just fewer bikes.

        Just you wait, when I am emperor of the world one of the first laws I will pass is to make owning a bicycle a prisonable offence.

  3. James Hughes 1


    How difficult can this system actually be to implement?

    Not very would be my highly unenlightened view.

  4. GeorgeTuk
    Black Helicopters

    Oh dear... fail once is fine, not great on first day.

    But to fail on both first days is well a dissappointment.

    Also Black Helicopter time but its almost like they planned it in winter for a reason, like say if it didn't work so well it might slip under the radar...

  5. JassMan Silver badge

    They'll get it working just in time...

    for they whole system to stop working because:

    A) the electronics is only rated for -5C

    B) the locking mechanism freezes up because it is not waterproofed

  6. Neal 5

    What a bummer,

    it was only 32c here today and although it was sunny for most of the day, it clouded over for about 2 hours with a mild breeze, I had to take refuge in a beach bar. Bicycles are also freely rentable at around 200-300 baht a week, that's approx 4-6 quid. I've got at least another year of this hell.

    1. Yesnomaybe


      ...keep that kind of smut to yourself from now on, if you don't mind. I'm COLD and a bit irritable.

    2. Tim #3

      4-6 quid a week?

      That compares somewhat favourably with the London scheme...

      so on that basis I suggest you extend your year for a further few.

      p.s. how are the ladyboys?

  7. Glenn Amspaugh

    From the 'Everything I know about BritEngland I learned from PBS TV' dept.:

    Doesn't snow in London mean alien invasion? Are touristas really trying to bike around town right now?

    /Beer, because I like beer and how come I can't get Fullers ESB in New Mexico anymore?!!!

    1. jake Silver badge

      @Glenn Amspaugh

      "Doesn't snow in London mean alien invasion? Are touristas really trying to bike around town right now?"

      I spent around a decade of my life in Blighty, on and off, from the early 1970s thru' the late '90s. It snowed every winter that I can remember. As for biking around London, I never did. I took the tube & walked the rest of the way ... granted, my schedule was (and is!) decidedly not that of the average commuter.

      "/Beer, because I like beer and how come I can't get Fullers ESB in New Mexico anymore?!!!"

      You never could get ESB in NM ... The pasteurized swill sold here in the states as "British Beer" has absolutely no resemblance to the living liquid gold sold in England. You're better off with the various West Coast micro brews than anything with a British label. IMO, of course.

  8. Cardare Anbraxas

    Serco? Seriously?

    Serco are terrifyingly bad at providing a working service. After having to deal with Serco support during a call to fix a problem with their school information management platform Facility CMIS, I actually think AOL support is pretty good, despite the fact that you probably pay £1.50 a minute to be on the phone with them and £10,000 a year for software maintenance and support for CMIS. Not to mention that CMIS itself is a horrible mess, it was designed so you were forced to go on training in order to know how to use it for basic things, never mind actually managing it. It's the least intuitive and user friendly system I've ever had the misfortune of managing and you have to think twice when managing it because one menu click that says one thing might mean it'll do something else that is potentially fatal to the data contained within. It's lost when that happens, Serco's support team is worse than PC world's aftersales service.

    I've dealt with the best of the best support services, and I've also dealt with the worst, the worst being Serco. I'm not surprised this didn't work. If plotted for Winter launch, shows a great lack of confidence in their own product, they know they put a half-arsed attempt in to making it a success, and as a result it didn't work.

    Best thing London can do is write-off everything Serco has done for them, and contract a firm which prioritizes their clients, and not their bottom-lines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Try JPA

      JPA, what a clusterfuck that system is....

    2. Snafu 2


      [quote] Best thing London can do is write-off everything Serco has done for them, and contract a firm which prioritizes their clients, and not their bottom-lines.[/quote]

      ROFL! Not only is this the UK, but this is /London!/ Haven't you heard of real life?

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      @Cardare Anbraxas

      "Best thing London can do is write-off everything Serco has done for them, and contract a firm which prioritizes their clients, and not their bottom-lines"

      And who would that be in government con-tractor land?

    4. Llanfair

      Reminds me of this

      It's about how consultancies design computer programs.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      That's not entirely fair

      Look at the DLR, that's a mostly great example of when things go right. The problem with Serco is that it isn't really one company, it's multiple divisions which are then split into contracts. Some contracts have good management, others don't. The bad ones have people in technical decision making roles that haven't a clue and the people at the bottom end of the wedge get shafted with a crap product to support. I guess this is the same for most large service companies, but Serco is getting itself a bad reputation because it has soooo many of these contracts and we hear mostly about the bad ones.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Is it ...

    ... a UK based dis-ease?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    snow in london...

    ... and I thought it just made everyone talk a lot, I wasn't aware it impacted on bicycle hire.

  11. DLSmith

    Killer-death snow

    "Let's hope they get the systems fixed by the time London is released from the icy grip of killer-death snow and people might actually want to hire a bike. ®"

    What that, flurries, a coupe of inches?

    When you get snow measured in feet like some areas of the colonies, then I'll feel sorry for you blokes.

    1. Thecowking

      And that's where it belongs

      There's only one type of weather we should allow in glorious Blighty and that's rain.

      These vulgar, coarse things like sunshine and snow should be relegated to the colonies where they lack our refined appreciation of the glories of that gentle watery kiss from heaven to earth that we call rain.

    2. David Robinson 1


      2ft of snow in Scotland or the north of England and it's a by-line on the news.

      2in of snow in London and it's a national emergency.

      1. Octopoid

        Stop the presses!

        Shock horror - areas that experience high amounts of snow are better equipped to deal with high amounts of snow. Who'd have thought it?

    3. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Killer-death snow

      Oh yes!

      I was in Stockholm on Friday, they really appreciate British humour up there. Apparently Birmingham airport closing due to 1cm of snow is the funniest joke ever heard in that part of the world. Everywhere I went there were people pissing themselves with laughter over that one.

      1. ChrisC
        Thumb Down

        Not all rosy outside of the UK

        Having spent a couple of days last week traipsing around Switzerland and northern Germany on business, witnessing the delays and cancellations that were occurring to road and air travel as a result of an inch (if even that) of snow, and coming within a gnats crotchet of having to spend an unplanned night in Dusseldorf thanks to the weather, I really REALLY don't think the UK has anything to be ashamed about regarding the way we cope with snow considering how little experience we've had of it in recent decades.

  12. Framitz

    . Most .

    Most confusing headline ever for a person in the US.

  13. Nick Kew Silver badge


    pay peanuts ... get monkeys

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "Most confusing headline ever for a person in the US."

    yeah i only read it to see what the hell that meant!

    Also This seems like the least technical contract the govt have. I could have have whipped up a card system for bikes in a weekend. And they failed on both opening days.

    maybe they should have secretly opened the casual use a couple of days before and , well, tested it

  15. The Envoy

    Meanwhile in northern Sweden...

    -2? Up here people are biking to work in -20.

    Hope the Boris Bike scheme works out as it is a good idea.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes, but -20 is not slippery

      It is simple physics. Dry snow and ice is not slippery, it is only when it gets wet that it is treacherous. I have driven in Finland in -18C on snow and you get the same traction (albeit with winter tyres but that also is part of the deal) pretty much as you do in the UK on tarmac at +20C

      When the temperature is a few degrees either side of freezing is when the snow is at its most slippery and dangerous - at -2C even the relatively slight decrease in melting point of water through the pressure of the weight of a car on standing ice is enough to form a thin film of liquid water on the solid - which makes it really, really fucking slippery.

      We also don't have the infrastructure in place to deal with this level of snow this early in the year - you might well have it in Sweden - I was in Stockholm last Christmas and there were constantly snow clearing and gritting vehicles out making the roads all nice and friendly. Which is good for a country that knows it will get shed loads of snow from early November through late February but for old Blighty where we expect maybe 3-4 days of [thickish] snow and that usually in January there isn't the justification to spend that amount of money on preventative methods.

      And finally, you have to remember that London is about 90% South Africans and Australians who will never have seen snow in real life before now so will have no idea how to cope, even if the buses were running.

  16. Paul

    boris causing need for safety checks?

    maybe it's because the bikes need safety checks after Boris' recent activities?

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Serco, aka Failure

    Round these parts "doing a Serco" = a fail

  18. bugalugs

    Service Companies

    I worked at an army base for some years, over a period when a service company took over everything from logistics through cleaning, catering, house-maid, gardening, building maintenance and even taking a piece of the " training " action. All positions were declared vacant. It was the death of a reasonably happy work-place as former workers lucky enough to qualify for re-employment found their new conditions significantly deprecated and new workers bitched about lousy rates and harsh supervision. Fifteen years and two or three other contractors later it is no better I hear. When HR " experts " team with lawyers, accountants and lobbyists to add value the result seems to be the visible clusterfucks and institutional earth-scorching we are seeing. Or have I missed something ? Good luck with the bikes.

    And yes, it was Serco - whose in-house accounting software always works.

  19. Jo 5

    We cycle in clogs and laugh at you

    What a bunch of wussies you are. It was minus 9c here in Holland and we all still cycle around on sheet ice covered cobbled roads with our clompjes (wooden shoes) on and on backpedal braking bikes and with no problem at all. Honestly - no wonder your country is in such a mess. Whatever happened to stiff upper lips and the churchill spirit?

    1. PaulWizard

      It was outsourced to a service company

      as above

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They'll scrap...

    the contract and give it to Capita I expect!

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Silly, silly Serco...

    Serco staff are, for the most part, extremely competent at their jobs. The trouble stems from the Project Managers who more often than not take the 'Ostrich' approach to project management - that is to say, they bury their head in the sand about potential problems and hope hope they go away. In addition, Serco Senior Management's solution to most problems is to throw more middle managers at it and hope it goes away. Spot a pattern?

    It pains me (as a member of staff in one of the larger divisions) to see stories like this, because I know that we do have the ability to deliver quality services and solutions to whoever wants them. We are however, managed by a bunch of yes-men who wouldn't know a reasonable project deadline if it bit them on the arse.

    Fun times.

  22. Glenn Charles

    gotta admit

    You damned brits are tough. Hire a bike?? My hat is off my bald head in homage to you. From one of those admiring American blokes.


This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019