Request ID: FOI-0168-2324 Date published: 02 June 2023
In appraisal and evaluation of its cycle training funding in general and Bikeability funding in particular, what are TfL's assumptions about the following factors?
1. External, non-TfL funding as a percentage of TfL funding
2. Overhead for the cycle training industry (including national and local level management costs, development costs and financial returns to private sector providers) as a percentage of total funding
3. Per annum average industry capital investment as a percentage of total funding
4. Labour cost per hour for cycle training
5. Ratio of indirect labour cost (client liaison, course administration, reporting) to direct labour cost (teaching)
6. Expected average hours’ training per rider, and the expected percentage mix of course configurations (as defined in the “Course Ratios” section of the Bikeability Delivery Guide) associated with this
7. Average instructor hours per rider, if this mix of courses is delivered at maximum capacity (as specified in the “Course Ratios” section of the Bikeability Delivery Guide)
8. Average capacity wastage rate, ie the percentage below full capacity that courses are expected to run
9. Average usage rate per rider, ie how many times the average rider will use the service
Clarification received 05/05/2023:
The request relates to any financial plan TfL may maintain for the cycle training it funds within London. It is not clear to us whether TfL does or does not maintain such a plan, though it seems reasonable for them to do so.
If TfL maintains such a plan, it is presumable that
- It would be on record and, as such, subject to the Freedom of Information Act
- It would prepared with reference to accounting years
- It would be based on documented assumptions
- It would compute a financial value per person trained, as this is a key cost/benefit metric for cycle training
- It would resemble a production capacity plan, since cycle training is subject to well-documented capacity factors specified in industry guidance
- It would consider how funding is spent between overhead, indirect labour (job admin) and direct labour (teaching)
- It would consider the gap between how many riders instructors could theoretically train, and how many they actually train: the wastage rate
- It would show how much additional (ie, council) funding would be required to achieve the planned numbers of trained riders.
It is, of course, possible that TfL does not maintain such a plan. If this is the case, a written confirmation that no such plan exists would provide a clear and satisfactory response to the FoI request.
An illustration of such a plan is attached, which shows the assumptions I've asked about in context. I think this will help to clarify the request, but will address your queries below. Again, if the plan doesn't exist, then you have no planning assumptions: this will be a clear response.
Both TfL (central) and the boroughs (external) contribute to cycle training. What projections do you have about what percentage contribution each side will make? Are there any other sources of finance considered?
We're mindful of the funding and contractual relationships between TfL, the boroughs, outsourced providers and instructors, and the limitations on TfL's financial insight into this. We're asking whether TfL, even in the face of this limited (but not inaccessible) knowledge, makes any planning assumptions about what percentage of cycle training funding is spent through the entire supply chain on costs other than paying instructors. This is a normal practice in many industries. If you have no planning assumptions, please confirm.
The main capital investment we anticipate is information systems, in view of potential rationalisation of data gathering inside and outside London and reporting to Active Travel England and/or the Department for Transport.
We're also mindful of the growth in provision for special needs, as the Wider Access grants are introduced outside London. By nature, special needs cycle training provision is more capital-intensive as it involves more specialist hardware and dedicated premises. As above, we are mindful of your relationships with the rest of the supply chain. We're interested in whether TfL has any planning assumptions about how much of its funding will be spent on capital investment. If you don't have any planning assumptions, please confirm.
Question 4 and 5.
We're mindful of the fact that you don't contract directly with providers or instructors, but we are not asking about actual financials. We are asking about whether, in the face of a city-wide shortage in recruitment and retention, there is a plan to finance the teaching, job admin and overhead costs for cycle training in London. If there is, we're asking what are the assumptions it's based on. If there is no plan, please clarify.
Questions 6, 7
We're asking whether you maintain any planning assumptions about how many hours' training, and instructor hours, the average London trainee will receive. For the purposes of appraising future stakeholder benefits from cycle training these figures seem relevant as they provide a numerical indicator of training quality.
One way to calculate such a planning assumption is to assume a mix of service types, each of which has its own specific values for trainee hours, maximum course size and instructor/trainee ratios. Currently, only 6 possible course configurations are defined within professional guidance (the Bikeability Delivery Guide), so this would not a complicated exercise. Assuming a mix of products is a well-established technique for planning production costs.
Professional guidance (the Bikeability Delivery Guide) stipulates maximum instructor/trainee ratios for training courses. It is therefore possible to stipulate what the theoretical maximum output (riders, rider hours) is for the inputs (money which buys instructor hours). Again, this is a normal part of production planning. However many London boroughs, for their own reasons, stipulate their own limits which are considerably less than the industry safe maximum. Furthermore, places may be booked which are not filled (eg, places on a school course may not all be filled). From a production perspective, this constitutes "wastage", expressed percent. All production processes incur wastage, but a production with lower wastage is, all other things being equal, more efficient.
We want to know if TfL has considered this in its financial planning for cycle training. Again, if there are no assumptions, please clarify.
Boroughs typically offer cycle training to those who live, work or study in the borough. A resident of one borough who works in another borough can claim off both. In aggregate, the resident has overused the service provision but neither borough will detect it. If TfL is running a financial plan which outputs a £ per trainee value, this assumption of rider usage is part of the arithmetic, a counterpart of wastage. If TfL is not running such a plan, there is little reason to set such an assumption - but please confirm that this is the case.
The attached illustration shows how these assumptions are used to generate a £ per trainee cost estimate within a financial plan covering multiple stakeholders in cycle training: providers, central and council funders, service users and instructors. We want to know if TfL is or isn't planning along these lines and, if it is, what its key assumptions are.
Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions on this matter.
TfL Ref: FOI-0168-2324
Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 16th April 2023 - and clarified on 5th May 2023 - asking for information about cycle training cost assumptions. The full trail of correspondence is shown below. Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.
Please note that TfL provides funding to London boroughs to deliver face-to-face cycle training for adults and children. Boroughs can also, should they choose, allocate a discretionary proportion of their Local Implementation Plan funding, and other non-TfL budgets to cycle training every year. A by-borough breakdown can also be accessed here, where you can access documents showing the allocation of LIP funding for each borough by selecting the relevant one from the list located on the right hand side of the screen.
Contracts for cycle training are held by the boroughs and TfL does not procure any form of face-to-face cycle training directly. As such, the specific details around contracted costs per head, industry overheads, financial costs, returns to private sector providers, or any of the other information you have requested is not held by TfL. To source this information you should contact boroughs individually.
Each year, boroughs are asked to report on the number of adults and children trained and an estimate of their total spend on cycle training. Using the information provided, TfL calculates an average cost per head across all boroughs to estimate the number and profile of adults and children trained. Boroughs are asked to provide the following information each year:
• Number trained to Bikeability level 1 • Number trained to Bikeability level 2 • Number trained to Bikeability level 3 • Delivery partner details (Training instructor and company) • School information (Name, borough, contact details) Adults:
• Number of 1-1 Adult Cycle Skills sessions • Number of group adult Cycle Skills sessions • Number of family group Cycle Skills sessions • Total number of adult attendees • Unique adult attendees Both:
From a TfL resource perspective, 50% of a manager’s time is allocated to managing the cycle training programme including allocation of funding to boroughs, reporting, overseeing quality assurance checks and maintaining a relationship with key external stakeholders such as the Bikeability Trust.
We are aware of the industry concerns around pay and conditions for cycle instructors, and we have asked the London boroughs to engage with their cycle training providers on this matter with a view to reaching an agreement that is acceptable to all parties concerned.
Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.
David Wells FOI Case Officer FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London