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Pune civic body’s cycle plan goes off-track as Mobike quits

The project which had four service providers initially, after the exit of Mobike, is now left with only one, which is Yulu

pune Updated: Jun 14, 2019 14:31 IST
Prachi Bari
Prachi Bari
Hindustan Times, Pune
Bicycles in the cycle sharing plan lie unattended on JM road on Thursday.(Ravindra Joshi/HT PHOTO)

The ambitious bicycle plan of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and Pune Smart City Development Corporation Ltd (PSCDCL) which was launched in 2017 is on the verge of shutting down. Mobike, one of China’s largest bicycle providers, has decided to pull out of the project.

The project which had four service providers initially, after the exit of Mobike, is now left with only one, which is Yulu.

The first two operators to leave the project were ofo and Zoomcar’s PEDL.

Adarsh Kedari, city manager, Mobike, said, “It is true that we have officially given notice about stopping our services. Mobike has shut down all the international operations except for China as the business is not profitable.”

“Besides this, another reason was vandalism which was a cause of concern, but not a major threat. Also, there was not much demand as people are using two-wheelers in huge, whereas the idea was to use the bicycles for transportation,” said Kedari.

“The project also suffered because it lacked proper coordination and infrastructure,” added Kedari.

“The bicycle plan is restricted not only to bicycle sharing companies, but it also involves building a bicycle culture in Pune, which included creating stands, parking spaces for bicycles, dedicated lanes,” he added.

Narendra Salunke, PMC’s bicycle plan department head, said, “These bicycle sharing companies feel this project is not financially feasible in the long run and have asked for a subsidy for this plan to work.”

“The price of ridership charges has also seen an upsurge from the invitation price of Re 1 to Rs 20 per hour which has affected the demand for the ridership. We are trying to see how we could keep the ridership and interest of people in this scheme,” added Salunke.

Meanwhile, several residents who wanted to use these bicycles often faced an operational hurdle.

Payal Chandekar, a resident of Katraj tried to use the app at Bal Gandharva, but it did not work. “I tried to open the bicycle several times, but then gave up when I could not open the lock. I wasted almost an hour in getting a bicycle.”

However, Yulu seems to not be bothered with the low numbers, Ritesh Rathore, city head and strategic relation head for western India, Yulu Bicycle Company, said, “We are improving day by day. In the past six months, we have not lost a single bicycle and only three minor cases of vandalism were reported.”

“The ridership has improved to 60% from 40% because we did not launch in common areas and instead looked at areas like Aundh, Baner, Balewadi, Katraj Snake Park and other townships. We are planning to expand the bicycles post monsoon in August,” added Rathore.

Yulu currently has 2,500 bicycles and earlier had 1,500. It is also planning to introduce 25 e-bicycles in the city.

First Published: Jun 14, 2019 14:30 IST