AFTER three months of providing the bicycle-sharing facility to the public at a nominal rental of Rs 2/hour, one of the two service providers has hiked the hourly fare. PEDL, a subsidiary of Zoomcar, is now charging Rs 6 for renting a bicycle for an hour.
Officials with PEDL said the initial rental was an ‘introductory price’ to get residents used to the service and it was always made clear that the fare would be increased in future. The bicycle-sharing scheme was launched by the Pune Municipal Corporation in December 2017, with the help of two private firms — namely PEDL and OFO. At present, there are over 1,500 bicycles that have been deployed at several locations, including Aundh-Baner, which is under the Smart City Mission and other areas in the heart of the city such as J M Road, F C Road and Law College Road.
PEDL has increased the rental charge since last week. Nirmal N R, vice-president, operations and growth, Zoomcar, said the decision has nothing to do with the ‘vandalism’ or any other factor.
“It was supposed to be increased. The Re 1 for 30 minutes was an introductory charge. In fact, the rate that was discussed with the PMC is Rs 10 for 30 minutes. The decision to keep the current rate or increase will depend on the usage and how people take to it. We will start subscription programmes where people who use it frequently will get some rebate,” said Nirmal.
Ranjit Gadgil, programme director at Parisar and a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee of PMC, said the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by the service providers with PMC does not put any cap on the fare that can be charged by the two firms.
“The initial fare of Rs 2/hour was a promotional initiative. The idea was that since four firms were supposed to provide the service, it was expected that there would be a healthy competition among them, which would keep the fare in control. The MoU, however, does not restrict the firms levying a certain charge,” said Gadgil. He said the increased fare might make people more vocal about various lacunea in the service. “Since people will be paying more now, they may demand better service and be more vocal about the issues they face,” said Gadgil.
Users of the service have expressed disappointment over the change in rental. Maskar Santosh from Roseland Society, Pimple Saudagar, said: “Since the rental has been increased, people have become a little reluctant to use the bicycles. Despite the increase in the rental, there has been no visible improvement in the service. The cycle count remains the same as it was two months ago.”