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Chandigarh’s public bike sharing project changes track year after launch

By, Chandigarh
Aug 18, 2022 02:06 AM IST

To evoke more response, as many as 62 of the existing 310 docking stations are likely to be relocated, as proposed by the agency managing the public bicycle sharing project in Chandigarh

Just a year after its launch, the UT administration has acceded to changes in the city’s public bicycle sharing project amid poor response from both cyclists and advertisers.

Since the launch of the project’s first phase in August 2021, more than 1 lakh users have downloaded the official mobile app and around 1,300 users make use of the app daily, with the number going up to 1,800 on public holidays. (HT Photo)
Since the launch of the project’s first phase in August 2021, more than 1 lakh users have downloaded the official mobile app and around 1,300 users make use of the app daily, with the number going up to 1,800 on public holidays. (HT Photo)

To evoke more response, as many as 62 of the existing 310 docking stations are likely to be relocated, as proposed by the agency managing the project. A total of 617 docking stations are planned under the project and the contract allows for change in the location of 10%.

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“The idea is to set up the docking stations in areas where there is greater accessibility for users and more visibility for advertisers. More docking stations will be put up near the bus stops for this purpose,” said a UT official.

The decision to change the sites came after a meeting chaired by UT adviser Dharam Pal on Wednesday. The meeting was called following serious concerns over the financial sustainability of the project.

The UT adviser directed the traffic police and the Chandigarh Smart City Ltd to submit a report within a week on the change of locations. The earlier sites were also decided by a committee comprising these two departments and finally approved by the urban planning department.

“The project being developed and managed by a private firm heavily depends on the revenue generated through renting out of advertisement spaces at the docking stations. The firm has struggled to attract advertisers. So, a change of location was sought,” said the official who attended the meeting with the firm’s representatives.

Third phase pushed to Sept

The third phase of the project, which is slated to be the country’s biggest public bicycle sharing system, was to start in June, but has been pushed to September due financial concerns.

Under the third phase, 1,250 cycles and 155 new docking stations are to be added. Currently, 2,500 cycles, both manual and battery-operated, are available, and the final target is 5,000 cycles.

Since the launch of the first phase in August 2021, more than 1 lakh users have downloaded the official mobile app and around 1,300 users make use of the app daily, with the number going up to 1,800 on public holidays.

On average, there are 1,200 rides per day and so far, more than 12 lakh km has been covered through these cycles.

However, the project has been struggling with several issues, particularly maintenance.

At most docking stations, people have been having trouble starting and ending rides. When the bicycle battery is low, the ride cannot be started from the app. Many bicycles have broken baskets, locks, pedals and stands. Many don’t have air in tyres, while mudguards, bells and handle grips of several others have been stolen.

The bicycles can be rented for 10 for half-an-hour and members can rent it for 5. One can register as a member for a year by making a one-time payment of 500.

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