Serco – London Cycle Hire

The Challenge

Client Overview

Serco designs, operates and maintains heavy rail, light rail, passenger ferry, and cycle hire schemes in the UK & Europe – from the Scottish Caledonian Sleeper to Merseyrail, from the London Cycle Hire Scheme to NorthLink Ferries. Serco pioneered and operated the London Cycle Hire Scheme (LCHS) on behalf of Transport for London (TfL) since its inception in July 2010, now covering 120km2 providing 12,000 bikes across almost 800 stations, managing over 50 million hires and counting.

The Challenge

The London Cycle Hire Scheme is one of the largest city bike hire schemes in the world and was designed, built and operated by Serco for the first generation of the scheme, and in 2017 they won the second contract – Bike Management and Supply (BMS) in which Serco is responsible for Bike Supply, Distribution, Maintenance, Operation Centre and the for the Design, Build and Delivery of changes.


Serco wanted to implement an asset management system to manage redistribution and maintenance of the Bicycles on the scheme and the Bicycle supply, including the provision of spare parts for all the Bicycles. Their primary objectives were to significantly improve the business processes involved and bottom-line efficiency of the multi-year operation.

The Solution

Serco selected IBM Gold Business partner, Vetasi, as the primary supplier and integrator for the Bicycle Management Supply Solution. IBM Maximo, Cognito iQ mobile, Decision Optimisation Center and Cognos was the basis of the BMS Service Solution. The usage of Maximo as the core of the BMS allows Serco and Transport for London (TfL) to maintain a high level of Santander Bike availability across all locations in the capital.


The BMS uses advanced CPLEX automated scheduling and Mobile Application Technology from Cognito to manage on street maintenance logistics for returns to central workshops, as well as relocation vehicles to move the bikes around to meet peak daily demand.


Maximo is used in the central workshops for maintenance and stores management. Additionally, the BMS has an analytics module which produces daily KPI metrics which Serco and TfL use to measure the success of the contract delivery.

The Results

Sam Jones, Head of Operations says “Vetasi has helped us to keep at the forefront of technical advancement and innovation, which is key to our continued development and high-quality operations. They delivered the initial BMS on time and continue to work with us to provide hosting (including capacity management), change, improvement and application support managed services”

David Schofield, Head of Technology & Analytics says “From the first month of the new system being installed and in use, we recorded a record hire month with very good full and empty distribution metrics. More recently during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite working with a reduced workforce, the system still delivered record hire days for April 2020, this was by enabling office-based staff to work from home and successfully access and use Maximo as normal.”

The Benefits

Since the solution, based on Maximo, Cognito, Cognos and the IBM Decision Optimisation Center, has been implemented it has delivered a huge number of benefits to Serco including;

  • Optimised the distribution of bikes to locations to meet customer demand
  • Improved the availability and reliability of the bike fleet
  • Optimised the spare parts inventory and related supply chain
  • Reduced the response and repair time when bike failures are reported
  • Improved the performance & utilisation of the redistribution operators and vehicles
  • Improved the efficiency of depot operations staff
  • Improved the availability of information to support operational decisions and supply chain planning.

Serco has consistently been able to ensure that bicycle hubs, in critical places such as Waterloo station, have the required availability of bicycles for hire and space to return them at key time periods. The Maximo system is used for geographical scheduling of the vans that transport the bicycles to where they are most required, using real-time reporting. The system also stores the inventory of spares and manages regular and corrective maintenance required by the bicycles.