Tue, Aug 21, 2012 - Page 5 News List

Rental bike scheme gains popularity

By Tsai Wei-chi and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter with staff writer

YouBike rental bicycles stand parked at a station in Taipei’s Xinyi District on Sunday.

Photo: Tsai Wei-chi, Taipei Times

Xinyi District’s (信義) public rental bike system has seen a rapid increase in membership numbers this month as well as a 30 percent increase in usage rate, after the introduction of a discount scheme that involves 30 minutes of free time, according to the Taipei City Government’s Bureau of Transportation.

The system had been promoted as an alternative transit system for Taipei City residents in the face of rising gasoline prices.

According to department official Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹), the department’s partner in the Youbike system, Giant, first implemented the discount scheme at the beginning of this month.

“With the system in place for three weeks, we have already seen an increase of Youbike usage by 30 percent and a weekly usage rate of 1,329 people,” Shen said, adding that hundreds of people register for the system each day.

Shen said the Youbike system is planning to increase the number of locations from 11 to 162 within three years, giving it a fleet of 5,300 bikes for rent and extending its service to cover the whole city.

Thirty new locations have already finished installing hardware and are planned to be available to residents by the end of the month, Shen said.

Once these 30 additional locations are in service, there would be approximately 1,500 bikes available to Taipei residents, she added.

Members of the Youbike system are be granted the first 30 minutes free, even if they are in the service area of the soon-to-be-made-available 30 stations, Shen said.

Meanwhile, as part of a promotional campaign in accordance with the city government’s planned “World Car Free Day” on Sept. 22, the department said it is offering the person who uses the Youbike system, the MRT system and the city’s bus system most often a prize of an EasyCard with a preloaded value of NT$10,000.

Although the promotional campaign is entering its final two week period — it lasts through this month — official records posted on the Youbike Facebook page show that the leading person has only logged on to the Youbike service 32 times. Hence, a close call would not be impossible.

However, the department has said that each usage of the Youbuke service must be at least 5 minutes or longer and a bike cannot be rented at the same location twice.

Participants of the event must first register at the official event Web site (www.2012taipeicarfreeday.com.tw/find), the department said.

Should there be a tie for first place, the prize would be awarded to the participant who registered first, the department said.

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