Public bikes have multiplied across Taiwan, and residents have been using them regularly. Much of the population is covered by YouBike, which boasts high usage numbers — the public bike share operation claimed the top usage rate globally in 2014, before expanding further in Taiwan to serve much of the area between Taipei and Taichung.
In Taichung, where the service is known as iBike and there are more than 300 stations, local areas in the city have rushed to apply for the government to install new stations to make the service more convenient. But those applications have hit a snag: The government did not budget for any new iBike stations this year.
This year’s budget can only be used to operate and maintain existing iBike stations in the city, according to Transportation Bureau of Taichung Director-General Yeh Chao-fu (葉昭甫). He added that the city plans to expand the bike stations in the coming years, UDN reported. The bureau had submitted a proposal to increase the budget for new bike stations, but it wasn’t included in the city’s new budget.
Taichung residents reportedly use iBikes often, particularly in areas around bus stations and schools. City Councilor Wu Chiung-hua (吳瓊華) questioned why there isn’t yet a bike docking station at Guoguang Bus Zhuanyun Xin Station, which would make transfers easier. DPP lawmakers in the city yesterday questioned Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen’s (盧秀燕) traffic proposal that includes MRT, high-speed rail, and commuter trains, but neglected to mention public bikes.
Of the total 325 stations in Taichung City, there are 39 in Xitun District, 37 in Beitun District, 27 in North District, 26 in Nantun District, 25 in Dali District, 23 in South District, and 21 in West District. There are also 21 in the East District, 15 in Fengyuan District, 14 in Taiping District, 12 in Dajia District, and between one and eight in other districts.
The Transportation Bureau noted that next year priority for new iBike stations will be near MRT stations, railway stations, high schools, and bus stations. The budget for next year is expected to meet this year’s NT$515 million (US$16.37 million).