Public Bike Sharing
- The urban traffic development strategy of “Public Transport Priority” was established in Dec. 2006 according to the Opinions on Economic Policies for Preferential Development of Urban Public Transport jointly issued by four ministries and commissions including MOHURD. In consideration of the local condition in development and implementation of policies and measures for preferential development of urban public transport, Hangzhou Municipality put forward the “Five-in-One” Urban Public Transport Service System with characteristics of Hangzhou and the “public bicycle” was absorbed into the public transport service system for the first time.
- In the wake of the rapid social and economic development and acceleration of the steps of Chinese urbanization, the increasing urban population has resulted in a rising demand for outdoor trips year by year. In spite of the higher investment of local governments the urban construction still lags behind remarkably the public demands for urban traffic resources because of economic development. The pressure of urban traffic keeps growing to give rise of the problem of “Two Difficult” in urban traffic (“difficult to drive” and “difficult to park”).
- In order to relieve the traffic congestion and reduce the public travel costs, Hangzhou Municipality have given strong policy supports to bus companies and financed them on the basis of their service quality. After years of effort public transport in Hangzhou has made great progress in facilities such as vehicles as well as service quality, taking a leading position in public transport in China. The passenger share ratio of Hangzhou’s public transport increased to 22.2% in 2007 from 7.8% in 1987, making great contribution to the social and economic development of Hangzhou. Nevertheless, survey conducted by local organizations indicated that 80% of the interviewees are still unsatisfied with the current traffic situation of Hangzhou and 84.74% of them thought the traffic congestion lowered the life quality. Such public opinions thus makes a new way of convenient, economic, and safe public transportation extremely urgent. Hangzhou Municipality started to plan a public bicycle program in Mar. 2008, which was for the first time in China, so as to alleviate the “Two Difficult” in urban traffic.
Goals of the Initiative
- The Founding of Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service Development Company (in 2008)
- Coordinated by Hangzhou Public Transport Group Co., Ltd., the CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Hangzhou Government established Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service Development Co., Ltd. (abbreviated as “Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service”) in Apr. 2008. The company is responsible for the total construction, operation and service management of Hangzhou’s public bicycle system, introducing the practice of free rent within one hour and staged rent in excess of one hour. The first row of 61 public bicycle service outlets was open to the public in May 2008 and a total of 2800 public bicycles were put on trial operation.
- Making Long-term Public Bicycle Development Planning (2008 to 2010)
- CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Hangzhou Government developed the Opinions on Strengthening Construction and Management of Public Bicycle System and Opinions on Further Practice of Preferential Development Strategy of Public Transport and Building of “Quality Public Transport” in 2008 and in early 2010 respectively. According to the Opinions, the 1st-stage of the construction program shall be completed at the end of 2009 with up to 1,000 renting outlets in main urban districts that housed 50,000 bicycles. By 2010 the public bicycle system should be extended to Hangzhou Economic & Technological Development Area (Xiasha District), Hangzhou Hi-tech Development Zone (Binjiang District), Xiaoshan District and Yuhang District. By 2012 the system should cover all five counties with a total of 60,000 public bicycles from 2,400 renting outlets, of which the central area of these five counties should be afford 200 to 400 public bicycles from 10 to 20 outlets. By 2015 the number of public bicycles in Hangzhou should total up to 90,000 and the outlets reach 3,500, of which the central area of these five counties should be home to 500 public bicycles from 25 outlets. It is planned that there will be 175,000 public bicycles at least in Hangzhou and the sum is expected to be 200,000 if possible.
- Exploring the Sustainable Development of Public Bicycle (in 2009)
- To ensure the sustainable development of public bicycle, at the very beginning the government has put forward a plan of financial support to infrastructure construction of the system and the rest of costs should be covered by enterprises themselves so as to reduce the financial pressure of the government. However the government will give preferential policy in trial operations, including commercialization and the development of service outlets. The model of “public financing and corporate management” lays a sound foundation for the sustainable development of Hangzhou public bicycle system.
Parties and Partners to the Initiative and Resources Used for Implementation
- The governing authorities of all levels, including Hangzhou Urban and Rural Construction Commission, Hangzhou Urban Planning Bureau and Hangzhou Municipal Commission of City Administration and Law Enforcement, provide great support to the development of service outlets.
- Hangzhou Urban Planning Bureau laid out the planning of service outlets and developed the plan connecting the public metro system. And as for those places where public bicycle service outlets are to be placed, according to the urban planning, Hangzhou Construction Committee requests the designers to specify the land for public bicycle in the engineering designing and pre-empt the space for the development of public bicycle system when examining projects such as stations, large recreational areas, large residential quarters, scenic spots and sports venues. While Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement is responsible for the coordination of departments such as traffic police, civil affairs and subdistrict administrations, the collection of public opinions on site location and the coordination work of site location, providing its support to early construction of the public bicycle system.
- Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company, a subordinate to Hangzhou Public Transport Group, is in full charge of project.
- Since its establishment, Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company has been engaged in continuous innovation in service, management and operation under the great support from the local governing authorities of all levels. Based on high technology it has been continuously improving the quality of the system by developing general planning, giving standards, creating new models, optimizing services and exploring potentials. At the early stage there were only 61 outlets with 2,800 public bicycles and the highest daily rent totalled some 5,000. After six years of development, the system boasts 3,111 outlets with 78,000 public bicycles by July 2014, making the plan of the distance of 300 meters for every single outlet. The highest daily rent of bicycles reached 411,400 and the accumulated quantity for the past six years up to 410 million. The ratio of public free use is 96% and the survey shows 95.09% of the public are satisfied with it.
- Financial Source: Stable Financing Through Municipal Supporting Funds
- At the time of the establishment of Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company in 2008, CPC Hangzhou Municipal Committee and Hangzhou Government thought that the government would support the infrastructure construction of public bicycle system with public investment and all other resources, including advertisement and service outlets, should be developed on a free basis while the income should be used for operation of the system. Meanwhile the central and local government also arranged great financial supports for all green energy characteristics of the public bicycle system, and Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement also exempted and reduced the cost of road occupancy for the renting outlets, which greatly reduce the operating costs.
- Technical Support: Cooperating with Colleges & Universities to Improve Intelligent Management
- Through cooperation with colleges & universities such as Hangzhou Dianzi University and Zhejiang University of Technology, and by means of data analysis, we have developed systems for smart bicycle scheduling, rent management and system to identify possible mechanical failure to achieve intelligent management of public bicycle system and provide technical support for the challenge of “difficult to drop off” and to repair”.
- Human Resources: Colleges &Universities, Communities and Social Elites Participate in Volunteer Service Activities
- According to the agreement jointly signed by the seven colleges & universities, including Zhejiang Gongshang University, and Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company, the Collegiate Volunteer Service Center for Public Bicycle System will be set up with volunteers participating in cleaning and maintenance of public bicycles, promoting green travel concept, and guiding and encouraging green travel. With the promotion of volunteer services and scale expansion of public bicycles, all kinds of communities, middle schools and primary schools are now active in volunteer service.
Innovation for the Initiative
- The Program, to some extent, is revolutionarily innovative. Borrowing the idea from Paris, in fact Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company didn’t make any field visit to France or had any email exchanges at the early stage. The company merely downloaded pictures of Paris’ public bicycle from the Internet and then independently developed “YAO Guofang” lock device with many national patents and Hangzhou Public Bicycle Intelligent System and changes the means of travel of many Hangzhou citizens. Ten riding routes are promoted to provide a more leisure travel to foreign visitors and visitors can ride to visit the West Lake and Ten Old City Gates. Meanwhile, the development scale, service modes and results achieved in the later period go beyond those of many cities in the world. According to the “Activity Time”, an American Professional Outdoor Activity Website, analysis and contrast have been made on public bicycle programs of 553 places around the world in Oct. 2013, and the comprehensive scores based on six criteria made Hangzhou the top one among the 16 places with highest scores.
- The innovation program has formed its own unique characteristics and Hangzhou characteristic in target, system, construction, management, operation, technology, policy, etc.. Playing a leading role in the program, the government sets up professional team based on the public transport and guarantees the non profitable service by means of commercialized operation of resources, laying a foundation for sound operation and sustainable development of public bicycle service system. This system is recognized as “Hangzhou Model” by the peers and media at home and abroad and has a broad influence. More than 100 cities in China successively invited Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company to assist them in local construction of public bicycle system; Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company has assisted 76 cities of 21 provinces (autonomous regions, municipalities) in China such as Heilongjiang, Shanxi, Guizhou and Gansu to complete the construction and operation of public bicycle system so far. In 2014, Hangzhou Public Bicycle Company also exported their service to Huangdao District of Qingdao, Pukou District of Nanjing and Dandong.
- As mentioned above, Hangzhou public bicycle innovation program is originated from Paris. The program only borrows the concept of “Public” from the local bicycle and makes complete improvements on specific management, service and operation based on the Chinese characteristics. The program is promoted in Chinese cities on the basis of local conditions, achieving good response and benefits. Take the public bicycle system of Taiyuan City, Shanxi Province as an example, its construction, service concept and technical support are all from “Hangzhou Model” and thus have avoided a number of senseless tryouts in development as it was established later than Hangzhou. On the basis of Hangzhou Public Bicycle System, Taiyuan Public Bicycle System enjoys the highest daily rent of more than 500,000 bicycles, far higher than Hangzhou’s. The system and hardware, including the performance of the bicycles provided by Taiyuan Public Bicycle System, are all far better than Hangzhou, which also promotes the exchanges on public bicycle system between Hangzhou and Taiyuan for joint progress.
Obstacles and Solutions to the Innovation
- In the process of practice we have come across five major problems, namely "difficult to distribute", "difficult to return", "difficult to react", "difficult to repair" and " difficult to manage”.
- "Difficult to distribute": The outlets of public bicycles in Hangzhou are all on sidewalks. Due to the limited urban road resources the outlet distribution gradually became a problem. To find a solution the local government adopted a method of planning in advance and had put in consideration the public bicycle space in the early years of urban rail transit and the newly-built community planning.
- "Difficult to return”: As the public bicycle project became widely recognized, more and more people are dedicated themselves in low carbon travel and therefore the riding time has been concentrated on the peak time in the morning and evening. Because of the systematically unattended operation and renting at one place and returning at another and the peak "tide" in the morning and evening, a problem of "difficult to return" takes place. To solve this problem we have assigned people to the manual service in more than 100 service outlets to help customers rent and return bicycles and at the same time applied information technology to establish a real-time dynamic scheduling management mechanism to strengthen the vehicle scheduling, and a mobile phone APP was developed to guide people to return bicycles to the nearest place.
- "Difficult to react": Of the 3000 plus outlets only some 100 have been staffed with people on duty, so people who have problems in the process of bicycle rental cannot get direct and quick response. What they can do is merely consult with the hotline for help and such a way of reaction have negative affection on efficiency. To improve it the company has opened an official website, upgraded the hotline platform and opened SMS and Wechat platform to strengthen the communication with citizens to improve the reaction.
- "Difficult to repair": Along with the increasing dependence on public bicycle, as well as the rising frequency of use that causes continuous damage of these bicycles, "difficult to repair" has become a major problem in operation. To find solution to this problem, the company appoints maintenance staff at the service outlets appealing to crowd to repair and maintain bicycles, resets the bicycle after being dismantled that has reached a certain fixed number of year, and makes industrial improvement as well as improves the quality of the bicycles.
- "Difficult to manage": Most of the public bicycle projects in other cities are supported by the long-term fiscal subsidies from the government. It brings a great burden to the government when the system fully gains the fiscal subsidies at the same time. While the system in Hangzhou adopts a model of "government calls and companies manage". After the government completes the disposable investment of construction funds the company through the marketing operation meets the public welfare services. That is the major innovation for the public bicycle system in Hangzhou, but how to maximize the use of existing resources becomes a difficult problem confronting to the company. For this problem, in 2010 Hangzhou Public Bicycle Service allowed, through public bidding, the 1035 booths, tents and the 50000 bicycles to be coated with advertisement at a price of 28 million RMB per year (an average annual increase of 10%). Meanwhile, the service pavilion increases a construction of commercial service such as tourism consulting, selling beverages and packaged foods, lottery ticket sale and registration Sites for car training, achieving a goal of "one pavilion with multi-purpose", and uses the media advertising put on the service pavilion to raise more funds. In 2011, the financial report of the public bicycle system showed the basic balance and thus laid a foundation for sound operation and sustainable development of this system. On this basis the company continues to be innovative in management in 2014 by develoing Yinting in cooperation with banks and export their service to other domestic cities to increase revenue.
Outcomes and Assessments
- Since the traffic service system of public bicycle in Hangzhou was put into operation, by looking from analysis on the public reaction we can find the results are far beyond the original intention of solving the problems of "the last kilometre after bus travel” and relieving the two problems of “the urban traffic ". Certain results have been achieved, such as in promoting energy conservation and emissions reduction, constructing low carbon cities, advocating green travel, improving the urban grade, advancing the city image and improving the physical quality of the citizens.
- 1, Integration with the public transport system of the city basically solves "the last kilometre after bus travel". Through the positioning of public welfare of bicycle transport system along with technology, the autonomous service of renting public bike at one place and returning at another have been realized, which is combined with the existing public traffic system. At present, analyzing from the situation of public bicycle rental, the lease area has been transferred from scenic areas to urban area and renting period also begins to focus on travel peak in the morning and evening (accounting for about 45% of daily rents), suggesting that public bicycle rental has transferred from the initial visit in scenic spot to normal travel. It can prove from this change that traffic system of public bicycle can solve the problem of the last kilometre after "bus trip".
- 2, To further improve the share rate of the bus trip and alleviate the “ two difficult” of urban traffic. Combine the favourable terms of public bicycle rental with bus trip to attract more people to choose buses and improve the share rate of bus trip. At present, the highest day rent amount of public bicycle is up to 411400, with a accumulative total rent amount of more than 410 million in six years. The share rate of bus trip is increased further, which plays a certain role in reducing the pressure of urban road traffic, improving road traffic conditions and easing the two problems of traffic.
- 3, To advocate green travel and promote the development of urban low-carbon economy. According to statistics in 2013, the annual average daily rent amount was 282800, the average rent time 33.6 minutes and the average trip distance about 3.0-5.0 km, which could save 12600 tons of standard coal and reduce 34200 tons of carbon dioxide emissions compared with bus trip; and save 50900 tons of standard coal and reduce137400 tons of carbon dioxide emissions compared with sedan cars. If each car carries two persons on average it means that 141400 cars are decreased every day. And the fuel charge saved in a year is equivalent to all the investment of government for public bicycles and it is incalculable for the demonstration of city ecological construction and guidance effect.
- 4, Public travel should be convenient and reduce the cost of public transportation. The traffic service system construction of public bicycle in Hangzhou through scientific and technological innovation has effectively reduced the system running cost to reduce the trip cost of hirers to an extreme and carried out a policy that citizens can rent public bicycle freely in an hour after getting off the bus. According to statistics, more than 96% of the public bicycle rental has been free since this system was released. At the same time the company also associated the favourable terms of free rent for public bicycles with conventional public bus trip and formulated a measure that the free time transferred from regular bus to public bicycle is extended to one and a half hours so as to attract more and more people to choose bus trip.
- Every year the municipal government will put new requirements on the construction of public bicycles according to the demand for of urban development and the social opinions. The public bicycle service set up plans and put it into practice according to these requirements, and the media and citizens play the role as supervisors, for example, "12345" the mayor hotline and FM89 hotline provide a communication channel for the citizens. Their satisfaction and the frequency of using public bicycles are the standard for project quality and the increasing communication channels provides a guarantee for them to use this standard.
- The implementation of public bicycle transportation system conforms to this city positioning of leisure and tourism for Hangzhou, a dynamic integration with slow canal system, slow channel system, visiting around the west lake and shopping at malls, complement each other and more adds atmosphere of leisure and tourism. Moreover, through the design on the service facilities of the shape, colour, etc, this transport system is naturally integrated into the city tune, showing a harmonious picture between human and nature, which beautifies the city and puts on a colourful stroke for constructing a leisure and international tourist city and building a " city of life quality ". At present, this green travel mode of public bicycle has become a new bright spot for Hangzhou, a city of life quality.
- Since the project was implemented it has gained favour from citizens as well as the leading officials at all levels, experts and scholars and media at home and abroad. The program also has attracted domestic governments at all levels to pay field visits to project in Hangzhou. In 2011, during the International Union of Public Transport (UITP Asian) held in Hangzhou, the expert group examined the bicycle service system and spoke highly of the green environmental protection idea of public bicycle and the internationally first-class technical support.
- Because of the implementation of the public bicycle project in Hangzhou, Hangzhou is even praised as the origin of the project of "the world's largest public bicycle" by foreign experts and media and evaluated to be one of the eight cities providing the best public bicycle service by BBC channel.
- The choosing principle of "four combinations and one notice". At the beginning of the project implementation, the construction of public bicycle tends to be where it is empty without consulting the opinions of the surrounding residents or investigating the nearby passenger flow or the demand. After the completion of the foundation sometimes electricity is beyond reach of use, otherwise after the construction is put into use it’s of no worth or opposed by the nearby residents; therefore, after what they have learned, the government adopted a principle of "four combinations and one notice" ,that is, the city management committee, the traffic police, the municipal administration and the bus group choose the site location jointly and then put the notice open for seven days on condition of the suitability of this location and no objection from any citizen.
- The first industrial service standards. The compiled management service specification of city public bicycle gives details of the service standard of public bicycles, standardizes the service content and was issued after seven modifications spanning for eight months as the provincial specification to encourage the province's development and popularization of the public bicycle system.
Benefit to Other Cities
- Choose the innovative measures in item 5.4 about solving the problem of "difficult to manage". In recent years, the project of sharing public urban bicycles has been promoted in a growing number of cities and most cities have achieved excellent results in the promotion; however, most of the successful cases tend to be based on the unlimited financial investment of urban government sectors. Though it to a certain extent alleviated the urban traffic congestion and improved the urban air quality, on the other hand it also can be seen that with the expansion of projects and aging of facilities, the government will invest more and more financial input, the burden will be bigger and bigger, which will restrict eventually quality of urban public bicycle project in the promotion.
- In addition, such as the public bicycle system in Wuhan, to reduce financial stress when promoting the public bicycle project the local government fully delegated the right of management of the public bicycle project to the local private enterprises. In the absence of government leading, enterprises make benefit as their purpose blandly, once making the "Wuhan model" of public bicycle that go halves with Hangzhou paralyze in Apr. 2014 and be reformed and thus giving rise to the state-owned assets loss.
- The business model of public bicycle in Hangzhou completely avoids the above problems. After the government makes a one-time financial input to public bicycle infrastructure, it mainly administrates from planning and regulations while enterprises positions with public welfare, that is, on the basis that free rent rate is above 96% for basic free of charge they make a market-oriented management by way of transferring the right of management of service booth and advertisement on automobile body. The enterprises expend by operation income for system maintenance, labour costs and vehicle maintenance, after realizing a basic balance in 2011 they gradually shifted to corporate earnings, really not spending a penny from taxpayers.