YouBike operator to only pay 15 percent royalty after making NT$120 million YouBike 年收一點二億 只須回饋百分之十五

Tue, Dec 10, 2013 - Page 11

The number of people using the city’s increasingly popular public bike system YouBike has seen a significant boost since the Taipei City Government implemented a policy giving customers the first 30 minutes free in September last year. According to statistics from Taipei City’s Department of Transportation, the number of users has exponentially increased from around five or six thousand to more than a million every month. The city government estimates that the bicycle system’s operator, Giant Bicycles Co, will rake in a total of NT$120 million (about US$4.05 million) in revenue this year. Media investigations, however, found that the second contract the government signed with Giant in 2011 clearly stipulates that when annual revenue exceeds NT$70 million, the operator must pay a 15 percent royalty fee to the city government. Revenue estimates do not take into consideration the government’s first-30-minutes-free subsidy policy, which allows Giant to take away huge profits. The operator is not required to pay back the city government proportionately, which city councilors and academics say is unreasonable and is why they are asking that the government demand a higher royalty percentage from the operator.

Taipei City Councilor Yan Sheng-kuan says that when the city government signed the contract with Giant, subsidies were not included as part of revenue evaluations, so the royalty percentage is only 15 percent. According to department statistics, however, YouBike is expected to make as much as NT$120 million this year, including NT$90 million in government subsidies. It is unreasonable for the operator to merely pay a royalty fee of 15 percent (NT$18 million) and get to pocket the rest of the profits, Yan says.

Yan says that the city government has already shelled out NT$260 million for setup costs and is providing NT$90 million in subsidies this year just to allow customer’s the first 30 minutes free, a subsidy that is expected to increase to NT$180 million next year. The royalty fee of 15 percent is excessively low, Yan says, adding that signing one contract every seven years is also entirely unfair.

Taipei City councilor Yang Shih-chiu says that the increase in YouBike usage means that advertising has become more effective, and says that the royalty percentage should therefore be increased and that liberalizing sponsorship rights should be considered. “The Department of Transportation should think about how to make money instead of just spending it,” says Taipei City councilor Hsu Chia-ching.

Huang Tai-sheng, a city government consultant and a retired professor from National Chiao Tung University’s Institute of Traffic and Transportation, says that it looks like the subsidy policy giving customers the first 30 minutes free has greatly increased usage, so the government should mull increasing the royalty percentage that it requires Giant to pay, or add other beneficial conditions for the government.

Taipei City Department of Transportation Commissioner Wang Sheng-wei says that in order to get a better grip on the operator’s profits and costs, the department has commissioned the National Federation of Certified Public Accountant Associations of the Republic of China for the first time to audit the company’s working paper to ensure the accuracy of its financial statements. The federation will publish an annual financial report of the company’s operations, he says, adding that YouBike operates according to a public bid and that the contract is already signed, making it difficult for any changes to be made. Next year after all of the 178 rental stations are completed, the city government will try to obtain the most advantageous situation within the contact’s framework, Wang says.

(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)

台北市公共自行車YouBike越來越夯,根據台北市交通局統計,去年九月市府祭出前卅分鐘免費政策後,使用量從每月五、六千人次,暴增為每月一百多萬人次,市府預估營運商捷安特今年營業額高達一億二千萬元。但記者查證發現,二0一一年市府與捷安特簽定第二次合約時,明列營業額超過七千萬時,須回饋百分之十五權利金給市府,並未納入前卅分鐘免費政策做評估,導致業者因補助政策獲取高額收入,卻未相對回饋市府,北市議員和學者多覺得不合理,認為市府應向營運廠商要求提高權利金比例。

議員顏聖冠表示,市府與捷安特簽約時,未將補助政策納入收益評估,所以回饋比例僅訂百分之十五,但根據交通局統計,YouBike今年營收額約可達一億兩千萬元,其中有九千萬元是市府補助,卻僅拿回百分之十五,其他都由業者賺走,非常不合理。

顏聖冠表示,市府至今已投入兩億六千多萬元硬體建置費用,今年將補助業者九千萬元前卅分鐘免費騎乘費,明年還要再加一億八千萬元補助,每年回饋百分之十五權利金太低,且合約一簽七年,簡直就是不平等條約。

議員楊實秋說,使用量增加代表廣告效益也增加,不但應提高權利金比例、甚至可考慮開放冠名權,「交通局該想想怎麼賺錢,而不是只會花錢!」議員徐佳青也說,補助免費騎乘只是過渡措施,絕不該是長期政策。

市政顧問、交通大學運輸研究所退休副教授黃台生說,目前看來,政府補助前卅分鐘免費政策,讓使用量大增,市府的確可考慮和捷安特協商提高權利金比例,或增加其他有利條件。

交通局長王聲威說,為確實了解廠商營收、支出成本等項目,交通局首度委託中華民國會計師公會聯合會,查廠商的工作底稿,確保帳目清楚,並每年公布營運財報。他強調,YouBike營運是公開招標且已明訂合約,要變更有困難,但會在明年一百七十八個站設站完成後,在合約架構下替市府爭取最大權益。(自由時報記者吳亮儀)