Starling Bank has been announced as the first sponsor of the Greater Manchester bike hire scheme, in the biggest commercial sponsorship deal in Transport for Greater Manchester’s history.
The cycle hire fleet will adopt a new name, Starling Bank Bikes, with bikes bearing the new branding set to hit the streets of Manchester, Trafford and Salford from February.
The sponsorship is a significant endorsement of the Bee Network, Greater Manchester’s ambition to deliver a fully-integrated, London-style transport system.
Starling Bank, which already employs 3,200 people in London, Cardiff and Southampton, recently chose Manchester as the home for its northern expansion owing to the city’s pool of fintech talent, and its status as the UK’s Top Digital Tech City. The digital bank’s new office in St Peter’s Square will house more than 1,000 new roles in the North.
The sponsorship deal is the latest sustainability initiative from the bank, which doesn’t have branches, doesn’t invest in fossil fuels, and offsets its carbon emissions.
The bike hire scheme contributes to the ongoing efforts to decarbonise Greater Manchester’s public transport network by enabling people who either don’t own their own bike, or don’t have it with them, to opt for an active mode of travel. Riders who make the switch from a car journey to a hire bike can decrease their carbon footprint by up to 83.7%.*
The scheme has gained 72,000 active users since launching in November 2021, with more than 1.5million kilometres collectively ridden so far.
Money generated from Starling’s sponsorship will be reinvested into the scheme, supporting ongoing operational costs, such as bike and stand maintenance and future expansion.
The long-term ambition is to grow the scheme beyond its current footprint of Manchester, Trafford and Salford to other boroughs in Greater Manchester.
Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester Mayor said: “We’re delighted to have Starling Bank on board as the first official sponsor of our bike hire scheme.
“The bikes have become part of the city’s fabric over the last two years and support our Bee Network ambition to deliver transport options that are affordable, convenient and sustainable.
“I’d also like to take this opportunity to welcome Starling Bank’s employees to Manchester following the opening of their new office in St Peter’s Square – this is once again another ringing endorsement of our city-region and what it has to offer for businesses, particularly those in the fintech industry.”
Dame Sarah Storey, Active Travel Commissioner said: “The bike hire scheme is a key part of building the integrated Bee Network, providing versatile and affordable journeys for people using both electric and standard cycles, across Manchester and into Trafford and Salford.
“Since its inception ridership has rapidly grown, with more than 72,000 regular users now signed up and the 1.5 million kilometres ridden milestone now reached. Average ride times are 10-15 minutes, making the bikes a popular choice for short local journeys.
“With big ambitions to expand the scheme, this new sponsorship from Starling Bank will provide vital resource to help realise that vision. I look forward to seeing the newly branded bikes out on the network and working with the team at Transport for Greater Manchester on the plans for bikes in new areas.”
Susanna Yallop, Chief People Officer at Starling Bank said: “There was no question that Manchester would be home to our next phase of growth; we’ve hired some incredible talent here and have ambitious plans for further job creation. We look forward to seeing how our investment in Starling Bank Bikes will boost the breadth of the cycle scheme, and Starling’s presence in the North.”
The sponsorship will see the bike fleet and stands adopting a new look over the coming months. The bikes will retain the Bee Network yellow as part of the design, with the new joint scheme Starling Bank Bikes logo to be added to the bike’s frame, back wheel fender and stands. The bike hire app will also get a makeover, with a new version due to go live at the end of February. The scheme re-brand will take place gradually during the next four months.
*Source: Beryl Impact Report 2023