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March 24, 2011

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Bicycle renting service improves

PUDONG'S Zhangjiang area is improving its bicycle rental service in order to attract more customers after enduring three years of slack business, officials said yesterday.

For starters, residents and office workers in the area are being offered free bicycle rental cards to improve awareness of the service. Residents just need to show their ID cards and workers need to have a guarantee from their firm to get the card.

The first batch of 10,000 rental cards include 100 yuan (US$15.20) each, which means people can use the bicycles at no cost for at least three months.

Rental fees will vary based on usage time, but the charge will be capped at a maximum of 1 yuan per day.

People can now get the cards at the north exit of Zhangjiang High-Tech Park Metro station.

They will soon be available at another three sites.

"The upgrade will make it more convenient and cheaper, so it should benefit more people," said He Yi, an official with Pudong New Area Construction and Transportation Bureau.

Since a trial run of the improved services began last Friday, about 1,000 people have applied for rental cards. Before the changes, only about 400 customers were using the bicycles even at peak times.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Forever Bicycle Co Ltd, which operates the service, has doubled the number of rental and return sites to 100 and added 1,100 bicycles to bring the total to 1,900.

The lackluster response to the service over its first three years was attributed to a lack or rental and return sites, high cost and poor public awareness, according to Shanghai Forever.

In the past, users needed to pay a 300 yuan deposit and 150 yuan annual fee no matter how many times they used the bicycles.

This deterred many people from joining because they don't need the service frequently.

"Many people don't ride bikes on rainy days or weekends," said Gong Xuan, manager of Shanghai Forever's public bicycle department. "These users will now pay much less than 150 yuan a year for the service."

The service will also be expanded to Pudong's Huamu and Zhoupu areas if the pilot run proves successful, officials said.

The program has beend designed to provide a green mode of transport for people commuting between bus stops or Metro stations and their homes or workplaces.


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