YouBike success has other countries looking to Taiwan (2014/03/09)

One of the biggest changes on the streets of Taipei over the past couple years is the rise of the YouBike bicycle-sharing system. Humble beginnings and growing pains have given way to a popular new form of public transit. The success has other countries interested in importing this homegrown Taiwanese service. 

Every so often, there are complaints about the YouBike system.

It might be nitpicking, but the criticism is worth listening to. It has led to improvements that created a new public service worthy of export.

At 5 o’clock in the morning, this YouBike dispatcher is working to make sure there is an even distribution of bicycles for rush hour between 7:30 and 9 am. It’s the start of a typical day for a YouBike employee.

YouBike offers a new lifestyle option in the city. There are presently 158 rental stations and more than 5,000 bicycles. Over 50,000 rides are made on YouBikes each day. 

John Ho
YouBike General Manager
Our (usage) is now the highest in the world. Daily turnover or usage of each bicycle averages more than 12, compared to eight in Paris or four to five in London and New York. So you can say that our turnover is quite high. 

The popularity of YouBike is different from when the program first began four years ago. At that time, pessimism was rampant and many thought YouBike would lose money.

John Ho
YouBike General Manager
At the time, there were only 11 stations and 500 bicycles, all located in Xinyi District. After four years of promotion, there were still only 30,000 members. When we started, we didn’t have enough experience and were worried about losing these bicycles. We had a rule that users needed to supply two forms of ID to become a member and pay an annual membership fee of NT$1,500. 

Over those four years, YouBike accumulated nearly NT$50 million in operating losses. This didn’t stop the Taipei City government, which aspired to develop a modern urban bike sharing system like Paris or New York. The city decided to increase rental stations throughout the 12 administrative districts of the city. But the huge losses incurred earlier meant no businesses were willing to take over operations.

In 2012, the Taipei City government finally convinced John Ho, the general manager of Taiwan’s best-known cycling brand, to give the YouBike system another try. Ho felt the first step should be making users happy from the moment they interact with the system.

John Ho
YouBike General Manager
We worked out the world’s friendliest and most convenient way of registering. Using a cell phone and an EasyCard, you can complete registration with no deposit and no annual fee. Just two to three minutes after registering you can begin riding.

After three months, the number of members topped 150,000. But with the additional users came new problems. Some people complained that after riding for a while the bike chain would fall off. This criticism led to soul-searching by a key YouBike parts supplier.

Wu Hsin-yuan
YouBike Chain Supplier
We have produced bicycle chains for many years. This is the first time that Chairman King Liu phoned to complain that our chains have some design defects, including loud noise and elongation. How could these problems emerge in YouBikes after just three months? In our hearts, we felt it was impossible that this problem was related to us.

Wu Hsin-yuan吳幸娟, the bike chain supplier, led a team to investigate the problem. She brought some of the defective bikes from Taipei to the company factory in Tainan. The team upgraded the tolerance on each chain and strengthened each link. YouBike, meanwhile, employs a repair staff of more than 70 people. Each person checks an average of 70 bikes a day.

John Ho
YouBike General Manager
At more than NT$10,000, the production cost of this bicycle is rather expensive. We thought it would be better to make a larger initial outlay rather than spending more for future maintenance and repairs.

Aside from hardware investments, software had to be created. And in the background there is customer service, maintenance and overall operations. Experience gained on the job became a key factor in YouBike’s success. When the contract expires in 2019, over seven years the Taipei City government is expected to have earned around NT$300 million from YouBike.

John Ho
YouBike General Manager
After the system became stable, we began looking at producing equipment for export. Over the past two years, Singapore, Malaysia, and Central and South American countries have approached us. We are currently in discussions with them. Now, we tell them that our first priority is doing this well in Taiwan. We are open to the idea of exporting this whole system as early as next year. 

Initial skepticism and growing pains gave way to a successful bike sharing system. This has led to new opportunities for Taiwan.

城市拜客 理想國






[[YouBike總經理 何友仁]]
“我們(使用量)現在是全世界最高的,周轉率已經一天平均十二轉以上,超過巴黎 巴黎大概八轉,紐約跟倫敦大概四到五轉,所以我們已經是高出他們很多。“


[[YouBike總經理 何友仁]]
“當時只有選擇信義區,設11個站 500台車子,這樣子的來推動,累積了四年多 才三萬多個會員 ,當時我們經驗不足,所以那時候也很擔心車子會丟掉,所以那時候規定,你是雙證件 才可以辦會員,而且年費要1500元”

四年下來,YouBike經營團隊虧損將近五千萬,但台北市政府仍不死心,為了躋身像巴黎 紐約那樣,有公共自行車系統的現代化都市,決定擴增公共自行車租借站,遍及十二個行政區,然而 因為之前的巨額虧損,沒有任何營運商敢再跳火坑。


[[YouBike總經理 何友仁]]
“所以我們訂出全世界,最友善,最方便的註冊方式,一個手機加悠遊卡就可以註冊,免押金 免年費,而且註冊完之後,大概兩三分鐘,你就可以使用


[[YouBike鏈條商 吳幸娟]]
“我們生產了這麼多年鏈條以來,第一次接到,(YouBike)劉金標董事長,親自打電話來反映,我們的YouBike鏈條,有一些設計不足的地方,因為有噪音 伸長那些問題,怎麼會YouBike用了三個月,就有產生這些問題呢,我們非常心裡面非常覺得不可思議。”


[[YouBike總經理 何友仁]]

除了硬體設備的投資,軟體方面 包括客戶服務、車輛調度、整個營運制度等,都是從做中學習 累積經驗,這也成為YouBike崛起的關鍵,預估七年合約到期時,2019年,台北市府可以憑Youbike 賺進三億元。

[[YouBike總經理 何友仁]]
“這套系統穩定之後,我們希望可以做設備外銷,當然事實上在去年跟今年,包括新加坡 馬來西亞,或是中南美洲很多的國家都友來找我們,我們現在跟他們談的就是說,現階段要把台灣做好為第一優先,最快明年之後,有機會我們不排斥,我們整個設備可以輸出到他們國家。”

或許你曾質疑YouBike,也曾邊騎邊罵,求好心切,然而 這一串嘗試錯誤,研發改進的過程,卻替台灣開了一條新的道路。


本文引用自 民視新聞網

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