YouBike to no longer be free over the first half an hour

YouBike to no longer be free over the first half an hour
The scheme is so popular that bikes at the most popular locations, such as at Taipei City Hall MRT station (above), are often in short supply.

TAIPEI - The Taipei City Department of Transportation released an official press statement yesterday, announcing that the department is going to abolish the YouBike policy in which the first 30 minutes of use are free.

Under former Taipei City Mayor Hau Lung-bin, Taipei City absorbed the charges for the first 30 minutes to promote the use and popularity of the system. This strategy yielded satisfactory results, with an obvious boost in use and an increase of YouBike stations in Taipei and New Taipei City.

With the increase of riders as a result of the first half an hour being free, various policies were put in place to prevent abuse of the system.

During his election campaign, current Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je addressed potential problems with the policy, and said that he wishes to remove the complimentary half an hour.

The current city government has said they wish to transform the YouBike system into a sustainable form of inner-city traveling for the future. With this in mind, the department is currently conducting research to calculate a new rate which means users will pay for all the time spent on the bikes.

Cancellation of Free Time Debated

Since Ko's initial verbal declaration of his intention to cancel the free YouBike time, the issue has been widely debated by citizens and government officials.

Taipei City Department of Transportation Commissioner Chung Hui-yu at one point suggested a discount on the first 30 minutes rather than complete removal of the benefits.

However, the party in the middle between the city government and the people is Giant Manufacturing Co., the makers of the YouBikes and their operation system.

During debates on the policy, Taipei City councilors at times blasted the company for receiving too much revenue, and should as such be the party to absorb the new costs.

As a result, Giant founder King Liu said that the company has been a victim of political attacks, resulting in damage to the company's reputation.

Giant's YouBike division spokesperson Vicky Liu elaborated on King's statement, saying that the founder was so saddened by the false accusations that he encouraged the removal of the 30-minute free time as well.

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