YouBike to cost 20 cents for 1st 30 minutes: Taipei mayor

YouBike to cost 20 cents for 1st 30 minutes: Taipei mayor
Cyclists cycling along a street in Taipei with the bikes from the YouBike system. Piloted in 1998, Taipei's YouBike is a bike sharing system set up by the Taipei City Government in partnership with bicycle maker Giant to tackle traffic congestion and add convenience to the mass transportation system.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei City Government' Department of Transportation (DOT) announced yesterday that it would be charging NT$5 (S$0.22) for the first 30 minutes of YouBike rentals in the city starting April 1.

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je said that the policy was decided upon after polling citizens.

Although Taipei's YouBike ridership will decrease a little after the fare hike, the expansion of YouBike infrastructure and equipment would require money, Ko said.

Still Free In New Taipei City

YouBikes stationed in New Taipei City will remain free for the first 30 minutes.

To encourage the use of green transportation, New Taipei City Government's Transportation Department said that they would continue to seek financial aid from the Environmental Protection Administration and the Directorate General of Highways.

There are currently 76 YouBike stations in New Taipei City; by 2016 there should be 300 stations in total, said the city's Transportation Department.

According to the department, the stations are being set up in districts such as Xizhi, Xindian, Xinzhuang, Luzhou and Sanchong.

More Money, More YouBikes

According to Ko, the DOT estimated that by 2019, the Taipei Government will have invested NT$1 billion in the YouBike project.

The DOT is looking to increase the number of YouBike stations to 400 and increase the number of bicycles from 6,000 to 13,000, said Ko.

For the sustainable development of YouBikes, Taipei citizens were surveyed by telephone and 73 per cent showed support for the NT$5 charge, said the DOT.

Taking into account the NT$5 YouBike charge, the Taipei Government's estimated monthly subsidy cost will decrease from NT$20 million to NT$7 million.

According to DOT division chief Liu Chia-you, Taipei would be able to save an estimated NT$100-150 million a year with the NT$5 fare charge.

Cross-city Bikes

Riders will still be able to continue YouBike share between Taipei and New Taipei cities, said Liu.

According to Liu, users will be charged based on where they take out their bicycle.

The rental cost difference between the two cities will be subsidized by the local government, Liu said.

With only a 2-per cent cross-city usage, Liu said that he does not think Taipei's fee will make a big difference to New Taipei's YouBike system.

Ridership

There are currently 6,406 bicycles stationed at 196 YouBike stations, Taipei's DOT said.

Liu said that by 2018, the DOT estimates that there will be a YouBike rental station set up every 350 meters in the city.

With a current daily ridership of 70,000 people and a turnover rate of 12 uses per bike, the DOT said that Taipei's bike share usage has exceeded cities like London and New York.

Responding to questions about foreign bike share fees, Liu said that Taiwan's bike share programs are relatively inexpensive compared to international programs.

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