Minister for Roads Jaala Pulford said the government had decided to get rid of the scheme ahead of a scheduled replacement of the 50 bike docking stations due to be upgraded, which would have cost taxpayers more money.
“This scheme has raised the profile of cycling in Melbourne, but the bikes have reached the end of their functional life and it no longer represents value for money for Victorians,” she said.
“By phasing out the bike share scheme we will create more space on our footpaths for pedestrians and bike parking, which is what regular cyclists and pedestrians tell us is needed in the CBD.”
It’s unclear exactly when the bikes are going to be removed from the streets.
The blue bikes are being used mostly by tourists or for leisure, rather than by commuters or locals as a mode of transport.
And while it costs a user $3 to hire a bike for the day, the scheme’s failure to gain traction meant each ride is costing the program about $8.
The docking stations – located in Melbourne, Yarra and Port Phillip councils – will be removed, creating more footpath space, and subscribers will be refunded.
RACV, which was subcontracted to deliver the scheme for Public Transport Victoria, has enlisted social enterprise Good Cycles to run the scheme day to day and transition the 600 bikes.
The scheme was controversial when it was first introduced, failing to gain traction with rider numbers falling short of expectations a year after it hit the streets.
Mandatory helmet laws were initially attributed to the low take-up of the bikes, with the government subsidising the sale of $5 helmets from city convenience stores in a bid to encourage higher use.
It comes after the Singaporean company oBike tried to roll out its dockless bike sharing program across Melbourne last year.
However, the distinctive yellow bikes were dumped, vandalised and even thrown in the Yarra before they were quickly removed from the streets by the company.
Simone is a breaking news reporter for The Age. Most recently she covered breaking news for The Australian in Melbourne.