Mon, Apr 29, 2013 - Page 3 News List

YouBike scheme a victim of its own success

ON YOUR BIKE?Users have reported problems renting or returning bikes, a situation officials said would be fixed, adding that registered users could extend free periods

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

Taipei’s YouBike public bicycle rental scheme has seen a sharp increase in its usage rate, but its popularity has meant insufficient bicycles or bicycle racks at some spots.

At popular locations, like the ones next to the Gongguan and Guting MRT stations, users can find it difficult to find an empty rack to return their bicycle and have to wait in line for a space.

At the Taipei City Hall stop and World Trade Center stop, where many users rent bicycles for commuting, the racks are often empty after work, with no bicycles left.

A Taipei resident who filed a complaint to the Taipei mayor’s mailbox, an online platform for residents to share their concerns about city policies and developments, said he could not find a parking space at Wuchang Park or at the nearby Songshan Railway Station.

When he called the 1999 Taipei Citizen Hotline, staff told him that workers at the system provider went off-duty before midnight, forcing him to spend 30 minutes finding a parking space on Yongji Road.

“The YouBike system is a 24-hour service, but it cannot address users’ problems at midnight. It’s hard to rent a bicycle and even harder to return it. The customer service needs a lot of improvement,” he said in the complaint.

The Department of Transportation said it recognized the problem, and said it would send more bicycles to some stops while removing bicycles from the racks regularly, so users can find spaces.

According to Shen Hui-hung (沈彗虹), a division chief in the department, the lack of parking spaces is more serious at stops in residential areas between 11pm and 1am, and he said the department will strengthen the dispatch starting at 10pm in those areas.

Giant YouBike scheme spokesperson Vicky Liu (劉麗珠) said Giant would also try to improve the situation. Meanwhile, users can check for empty racks at the kiosk at each stop. If they cannot find a space, users can register their EasyCard at the kiosk and extend the free-of-charge period for another 60 minutes.

The YouBike scheme has 116,000 registered users and the number of daily rentals has reached 25,000 on weekdays and 27,000 on weekends.

The Department of Transportation has installed 62 YouBike rental stops so far, with 2,132 bicycles.

It plans to increase the number of locations to 162 by the end of the year, making the scheme more accessible to commuters.

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