Sat, May 30, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Kaohsiung bicycle rentals don't cover costs: company

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The company that won the contract to operate a self-service bicycle rental system in Kaohsiung City complained yesterday it has been in deficit since the system was launched about three months ago by the city government.

When the service was introduced in March, there were 1,500 bikes available for rent at 20 locations throughout the city, but the number has since grown to 4,500 bikes at 50 locations, said city government official Wu Chia-an (吳家安), who supervises the bike rental system.

However, Tung Li Development Co chief executive Yeh Chi-chung (葉致中) said operating expenses and depreciation costs have reached an estimated NT$1 million per month, while its monthly revenue is less than half of that amount.

Although more rental locations would help to boost business, the higher costs associated with expansion should also be taken into account, Yeh said.

In response, Wu first praised Tung Li Development Co, which was commissioned by the government to operate the system over the next five years, for abiding by the contract. He then urged the company to come up with programs to better advertise the service and help increase business.

The city government's tracking the rental service's performance found that there are usually about 100 bicycle rentals per day on weekdays and about 700 per day on weekends and holidays, Wu said.

The figures suggest that most bicycle rentals in the city were for leisure purposes rather than for commuting, Wu said. He urged the company to step up advertising to encourage people to use bicycles for travel over short distances to help cut carbon dioxide emissions.

The city government will also keep a close watch on whether rentals will rise with the increased number of stations, he said.

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