Credit: Thomas Harris

Free Travel Scheme for Students in Glasgow Set to Expand

By Leonard Hockerts

Glasgow’s OVO bikes are free for students, yet so many are unaware of the benefits that the scheme offers.

If you have been around the streets of Glasgow, you have likely seen groups of green rental bikes standing below “People Make Glasgow” signs. These so-called “OVO Bikes” are a bike rental scheme by Nextbike that was implemented in Glasgow almost ten years ago. Their popularity has since grown immensely, hitting approximately 2000 journeys a day.

The concept is simple: Find a bike station, unlock a bike with your phone by scanning its QR code, cycle, and finally leave it at any Nextbike station. You pay for the duration of your journey, which is measured in regular time intervals.

This way of biking has the key advantage that people don’t have to leave and lock their bikes somewhere. That allows for people to make a bike journey, for instance, from the West End to the City Centre, and then make a return journey home with the bus.

Students at the University of Glasgow who sign up using their university email have the privilege of being able to make Nextbike journeys of up to one hour without charge. As a result, this transport method has become quite popular among students.

The rental scheme is particularly useful for students above the age of 21 who no longer have a free bus pass through the YoungScot scheme. Glasgow has the most expensive bus fares of any British city, rendering de-facto-free bike usage as a helpful alternative. Many also use them to get home during the night when there is no more public transport available. Speaking to The Glasgow Guardian, one student expressed that he had used the rental bikes a lot when he moved flats, cycling back and forth to transport his belongings to his new flat.

Surprisingly, the main reason for the infrequent use of the rental bikes among students is not a critique of the OVO Bikes. Instead, it is a lack of knowledge about the scheme. From discussions around campus, it has become clear that a large number of students are unaware of the benefits of the scheme, for example, the low charge of journeys and ease of use. 

Over the next few years, Glasgow City Council are set to expand the city’s bike network, planning the addition of bicycle lanes on another 100 roads. There is the hope that the upcoming, new improvements will make cycling an easier and safer experience, thereby also potentially boosting the quality of the Nextbike service.


Share this story

Follow us online

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments