New Taipei, The first 30 minute rental fee for YouBike, the public bike-sharing system, will soon not be free any longer in New Taipei and Kaohsiung, the transportation authorities of the two special municipalities said Thursday.
According to the Transportation Department of New Taipei, YouBike users in the city will be charged NT$5 (US$0.035) for their first 30 minutes from March 30.
From April 1, YouBike riders in Kaohsiung will also have to pay NT$5 for their first 30 minutes, the Transportation Bureau of Kaohsiung said.
In New Taipei, however, YouBike riders who are transfer users for bus, metro system or light rail rides will continue to enjoy their first 30 minutes of use free of charge, as part of the city's efforts to encourage the use of public transportation, the authorities said.
In addition, YouBike riders who buy the NT$1,280 monthly tickets to pay for both bus, MRT and light rail will also have their first 30 minute bike rides free, the authorities said.
Wu Cheng-yen (???), a section chief of New Taipei's Transportation Department, said Taipei removed the free charge services for its own YouBike system as early as 2014 in a bid to allow more commuters to gain access to the public bike sharing services, and New Taipei will follow suit.
According to an analysis by the department, about 96 percent of YouBike riders return their bikes within 30 minutes of use, and more than 75 percent of them were transferring to bus or MRT rides.
Citing the report, YouBike has become one of the most important transportation systems for commuters in the city, so it is necessary for the city to come up with a fair payment system to allow more people to use the bike-sharing system.
According to New Taipei, the city's YouBike system has a total of 652 stations with 20,625 bikes in service and a daily number of users at 100,000 on average, with free charge for the first 30 minutes costing the city about NT$300 million per year.
For its part, Kaohsiung's Transportation Bureau said YouBike users who use iPASS Cards to pay for their bike rides before or after using bus, MRT or light rail rides as transfers will continue to have a free first 30 minute bike ride.
Wu Shu-chuan (???), head of the bureau, said the arrangement will reduce costs for commuters.
The YouBike system in Kaohsiung was launched in July 2020 and now has more than 1 million users a month. The city has 894 YouBike stations with 8,660 bikes in service.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel