Taipei is to expand its public bicycle rental program by adding a further 162 rental stops and more than 5,000 more bicycles in the pedal-powered system over the next three years.
The bicycle boost will allow customers to rent two-wheeled transport more easily using an EasyCard from July, Taipei City Government’s Department of Transportation said.
About 30 rental stops will be set up this year around stations along the MRT’s Blue line, Wenhu line and Luzhou line as well as in the Nangang and Gongguan areas.
The department will set up a further 60 stops in both Zhongshan (中山) and Wanhua (萬華) districts and an additional 72 stops in Shilin (士林) and Dazhi (大直) districts, as well as around Neihu Science Park, the department said.
Sheng Hui-hong (沈慧虹), a division chief at the department, said the expansion of rental stops aimed to increase the public bicycle rental program usage rate. The rented bicycles are known as “U-Bikes” and the department is also seeking to simplify the rental procedures to boost participant levels.
“People will soon be able to use an EasyCard, or their cellphones, to rent bicycles. We hope the expansion of rental stops and the easier rental procedures will boost the usage rate and encourage more people to use public transportation,” Sheng said.
Starting from July, people will be permitted to rent a “U-Bike” by completing an online application form, she added.
Taipei City launched its city-center bicycle hire program in 2009 with 11 rental sites in Xinyi District (信義) providing 500 bicycles for in the district.
According to the city’s Department of Transportation, only an average of 23 people a day use the system.
The department has budgeted NT$14 million (US$ 470,000) a year to manage the program, which has incurred a loss of more than NT$10 million since its launch.