Upgraded YouBike service to start trial run in Gongguan Wednesday

CNA file photo
CNA file photo

TAIPEI (CNA) — Public bicycle rental service provider YouBike will launch a three-month trial run of its upgraded system in the Gongguan area of Taipei on Wednesday before the city considers replacing all current YouBike bicycles with new ones, the city’s Department of Transportation said Tuesday.

A total of 1,808 new YouBike bike stands will be installed at 102 stations in the area during the trial run, accommodating 500 new bikes, as part of its “YouBike 2.0” project, the department said, adding that the service will start operation at 10 a.m.

The department cautioned that scooter or bike riders should remove vehicles parked near the new stations to avoid receiving a ticket.

The new service will feature smart control panels on the bikes themselves instead of on the stands, meaning that users can proceed with the rental process directly by swiping an Easycard or by scanning the QR code with a mobile App on their phones, the department said.

The relocation of the control panels means the stands will take up less space, which is necessary to build a more comprehensive network in the future, it explained.

The new operating 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 the department.

The bikes, to be painted white and yellow, will also carry a GPS chip and use an automatic locking system instead of traditional locks.

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

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

The Gongguan area near National Taiwan University was chosen as the location for the trial run as it is the most popular YouBike hotspot in Taiwan, according to the department.

While 13,072 YouBikes were served by around 400 stations in Taipei as of the end of 2017, the city government is still looking to make improvements in terms of the density of bike stations, the department said.

The city estimates that the new system will make it possible to expand the 400 stands to about 2,000 in the future, it added.

The city will study user behavior during the three-month test run when drafting its plan to expand the “YouBike 2.0” system citywide, the department said.

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