Usage of the €4.5m regional bikes scheme in Cork, Limerick, and Galway is running far below original estimates.
Document released under freedom of information legislation show that only around half of all bikes in Limerick and Galway are used on average each day.
Although the Cork scheme has higher usage rates with just over two trips being made each day with each of the city’s 330 bikes, it is below the estimate of three daily trips per bike predicted by the National Transport Authority at the pre-launch stage.
Records show the NTA also originally considered including Waterford in the scheme. However, a NTA spokesperson said the plan was not progressed when research indicated there was insufficient demand in Waterford to justify its inclusion.
The latest figures show that the uptake of the scheme in Galway has been particularly low with less than 0.4 trips being made with each bike on average daily — well below the original projection of two trips.
The actual usage in Limerick is around 0.6 bike trips per day compared to the initial estimate of 1.5.
Official figures show 202,062 trips were made on the bikes in Cork in the year to September 30. Over the same period, 30,244 were made in Limerick but just 15,509 in Galway. The average trip lasts 15 minutes.
Figures based on the initial uptake would suggest the scheme is not as successful as the similar and popular Dublin Bikes scheme which has been in operation since 2009.
A 2012 report examining the potential for the bikes scheme in regional cities found the relatively small size and lack of congestion in Cork, Limerick, and Galway as well as the dominance of car travel in the three cities were limiting factors in its potential success.
Documents seen by the Irish Examiner show Cork and Limerick were assigned more bikes and docking stations than originally recommended but Galway has been provided with fewer.
Consultants had proposed that Cork should get up to 265 bikes and 25 docking stations. The city has 330 bikes at 31 locations. The city’s busiest station is at Fitzgerald’s Park near UCC and the least used is the one at Brian Boru Bridge.
Limerick was recommended to get up to 165 bikes and 20 docking stations. It has 215 bikes at 23 stations. Its busiest station is located at Mary Immaculate College and the least used is on O’Connell Avenue.
Galway has 195 bikes and 15 docking stations after four were removed for various reasons including public objections. It was originally recommended to get up to 250 bikes and 23 stations. The most used station is at Galway Cathedral and the least busy at Gaol Rd.
However, figures collated by the NTA show the number of subscribers has exceeded original expectations. There are over 6,800 subscribers in Cork around 2,400 in Limerick and just under 2,200 in Galway.
There are 55 people who have taken out membership of the scheme in all three cities.
However, around 70% of annual subscribers across all three schemes have still never rented a bike.
It also emerged that further expansion of the bikes scheme for Tallaght and Dún Laoghaire is being considered.
However, consultants advised that it would be prudent to wait for further results on the uptake and performance of the scheme in Cork, Limerick, and Galway before extending the scheme to other areas.