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Premier plays down future bike-share handouts

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said yesterday that the Executive Yuan will subsidize Taipei City's YouBike sharing system within a “reasonable range,” but cautioned that if a public bicycle sharing system is launched nationwide, local governments should not expect to rely solely on government subsidies.

At the same time, Jiang encouraged local governments to solicit support from local organizations and companies and to allow those private organizations to collaborate in any potential system.

In November 2012 Taipei City received NT$18 million from the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to set up and operate the bike-sharing system, but that initial sum has run out due to the rapid expansion of YouBike rental stations in the city. Taipei has requested an anti-pollution subsidy of NT$100 million from the EPA to continue YouBike's waiver of fees for the first 30 minutes of rentals.

During the Cabinet's weekly meeting yesterday, Taipei Deputy Mayor Tim Ting (丁庭宇), speaking on behalf of the city, said that Taipei hopes the government can keep subsidizing its YouBike system.

The EPA said that given the difference between the subsidy proposals raised by Taipei this year and the one proposed in 2009, the administration would require additional time to examine the renovated proposal.

The EPA also indicated that many other local governments also expressed their willingness to launch their own public bike sharing systems after witnessing Taipei's successful experience with its YouBike, and as a result, the EPA must carefully consider how to allocate subsidies fairly and efficiently. The EPA added that it will make a decision on the matter as soon as possible.

The premier stated that if local governments wish to launch bike sharing systems in their own administrative districts, pure reliance on governmental assistance cannot act as a long-term solution.

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