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Changhua YouBike proves a hit in 1st month of service

TAIPEI -- Changhua County's YouBike public bicycle rental system has proven a hit, with over 100,000 riders in the one month since it launched in the central county, a local official said yesterday.

The county government teamed up with world renowned bicycle maker Giant Manufacturing Co. to launch the automated rental network May 22 in a bid to help students commute and boost tourism in Taiwan's second most populous county, according to Wang Ya-lei, an official in the county's City and Tourism Development.

The local government has set up 750 bicycles at 22 rental stations around the county, home to 1.3 million people. All of the current stations are located in the county seat of Changhua City.

Wang said the reception has been far better than the county had hoped.

Most users — 58 percent — rented bikes at one location and returned them at another, she said, indicating widespread use of the system.

The rental station by Changhua railway station has seen the highest rental rate, she said.

Students have been the main users of the YouBike system on weekdays, she added, while on weekends, most users were tourists.

Although the YouBike has proven highly popular, system operator Giant has found that many first-time users do not know how to apply for membership to rent the bikes and are confused by the automated rental and returning system.

Kuo San-mo, a senior executive at Giant's YouBike business in central Taiwan, said that clarifying how to use the system is a key issue that the operator and the county government need to address.

With the launch of the system last month, Changhua became the first locality outside of the Greater Taipei area to use Giant-made YouBikes as part of its public transit infrastructure. It is also the first locality in central Taiwan to have any type of public bicycle system.

The YouBike system was launched in Taipei on a trial basis in 2009. Since then, neighboring New Taipei and Kaohsiung in the south have also launched their own systems.

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