Taipei Mayor Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) yesterday said making the YouBike public bicycle rental service free for the first 30 minutes again has always been his plan.
Chinese-language media earlier in the day reported that the Taipei City Government is planning to reinstate the policy from the beginning of next year.
The policy was implemented when the service was launched in 2012, but it was terminated by then-Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in 2015. Since then, the first 30 minutes have cost NT$5, with rates rising by NT$10 to NT$40 for 30 minutes after that.
In response to the reports, the Taipei Department of Transportation said that the city government is planning to reinstate the policy, adding that it has not yet decided when it would be implemented.
The department said that it would take into account how many people buy the planned monthly public transportation pass covering Taipei, New Taipei City, Taoyuan and Keelung.
Reinstating the free 30 minutes would incentivize more people to sign up for the YouBike system and reduce carbon emissions from passenger vehicles by 7,000 tonnes per year, the department said.
Taipei has 1,260 YouBike rental stations and the number of rides exceeded 34 million last year, a historic high, it said.
The department said it is working with the Department of Information Technology’s big data center to improve the distribution of bicycles, the location of new stations and increase the number of bicycles at stations with high demand.
“Making the YouBike public bicycle rental service free for the first 30 minutes has always been my policy goal,” Chiang said.
The mayor said he has asked the departments involved to draft comprehensive plans.
Chiang said that the city government would take user complaints into account, for example that some stations usually do not have bicycles at peak times while others have no free slots to return them.
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