Concerns over fiscal viability: Rough ride for bicycle sharing system; third phase pushed to Sept - Hindustan Times
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Concerns over fiscal viability: Rough ride for bicycle sharing system; third phase pushed to Sept

By, Chandigarh
Aug 15, 2022 01:48 AM IST

With the public bicycle sharing system struggling to generate adequate funds to make the project self-sustainable, it has been a rough ride for the green initiative over the last two months.

With the public bicycle sharing (PBS) system struggling to generate adequate funds to make the project self-sustainable, it has been a rough ride for the green initiative over the last two months.

UT adviser Dharam Pal will hold a review meeting with the firm carrying out the project to discuss the initiative’s future and financial viability on August 17. (Keshav Singh/HT)
UT adviser Dharam Pal will hold a review meeting with the firm carrying out the project to discuss the initiative’s future and financial viability on August 17. (Keshav Singh/HT)

The third phase of one what is slated to be the country’s biggest PBS was to start in June, but has been pushed to September amid concerns over the project’s financial sustainability.

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UT adviser Dharam Pal will hold a review meeting with the firm carrying out the project to discuss the initiative’s future and financial viability on August 17.

A UT official, who did not wish to be named, said, “With no cost to the administration, except providing land for establishing docking stations, the firm has to establish docking stations and provide cycles. In return, it is allowed to rent out advertisement space at the docking stations. The firm has struggled to generate adequate demand for these spaces, resulting in poor revenue return.”

Under the third phase, 1,250 cycles and 155 new docking stations will be added to the project, under which a total 5,000 cycles and 617 docking stations are to be set up.

As many as 1,250 bicycles were to be added in the second phase, taking the two-wheelers’ strength to 2,500. Stress was laid on expanding the network near educational institutions and government offices. At Panjab University alone, 11 new docking stations were made operational.

“Initially, the project was to be completed by October, but now it is uncertain by when all cycle and docking station targets will be achieved. The firm has expressed a willingness to continue with the project, it is expected to lower the advertisement rates to raise revenue from the project. All these issues are likely to be taken up in the August 17 meeting,” said the official.

Snags in the project

Former UT administrator VP Singh Badnore had launched the first phase of the project on December 10 last year, under which 225 cycles were provided at 25 docking stations.

Since the launch of the first phase, around 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. However, the project has been struggling with several issues, particularly maintenance.

At most of docking stations, people are having trouble starting and ending rides. When the battery is low, several bikes are unable to start the ride from the app. Many bicycles have broken baskets, some have broken locks and pedals, and others have no air in tyres.

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. Users may avail the service by downloading and registering through the smart bike mobile app.

Project at a glance

Since the launch of the first phase, around 1 lakh users have downloaded the official mobile app and around 1,300 users make use of the app daily.

Salient points

1. Bicycles can be rented for 10 for half-an-hour, and members can rent it for 5.

2. As many as 5,000 cycles and 617 docking stations to be set up under project

3. One can register as a member for a year by making a one-time payment of 500.

4. Users may avail the service by downloading and registering through the smart bike mobile app.

Difficulties with project

1. Trouble starting and ending rides.

2. Broken baskets, locks and pedals

3. Low air pressure in tyres.

4. Poor revenue from advertising

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