Upgraded YouBike service to start trial run in Gongguan shopping area

Taipei-An upgraded system of the public bicycle rental service provider YouBike will undergo a trial run in the Gongguan shopping area in Taipei in January as the city prepares to replace all current YouBike bicycles, officials said Monday.

There will be 1,250 bike stands installed in the area, the most popular YouBike hotspot in the country, to accommodate 500 new bikes, said Liao Yun-ling (???) of the city government's Department of Transportation.

The city will study user behavior from the test run to adjust its plan to launch the "YouBike 2.0" system citywide from late 2020, Liao said.

The new service will feature smart control panels on the bikes themselves, meaning that users can proceed with the rental process directly with an Easycard or by reading the QR code on the bikes, Liao said.

Moving the operating system from the bike stands to the bikes themselves means that the stands will take up less space, which is necessary to build a more comprehensive network, she explained.

While there are already 13,000 YouBikes served by around 400 stations in Taipei, there is still room for improvement in the density of bike stops, Liao said.

The new system will also be more eco-friendly, as the service interface will use built-in solar energy panels on the bicycles instead of being powered by underground wires through the stands, according to Liao.

The bikes, to be painted white and yellow, will also carry GPS and use an automatic locking system instead of traditional locks, and for the first time will be introduced into the grounds of National Taiwan University, she added.

However, the new system will not be compatible with the existing one, Liao said, acknowledging that this will cause confusion and inconvenience for users.

The city government will install the new stands alongside the existing ones, so that users will have two options.

For stops without sufficient space to park enough new bikes, she said, the government will install several new stations on a smaller scale near the current stations.

"The point is to make the bikes more accessible from everywhere in the city," she said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel