Bologna invests public funds in its dockless bikeshare program with Mobike!
The municipality of Bologna, Italy, just signed a contract with the local operator Idri Bk, after a tender procedure organised by SRM, the local Authority for Public Transport in Bologna area. Idri Bk is the Italian operator for Mobike, managing schemes in Florence, Rome, Milan and Cremona.
The tender was forecasting a 800 000€ annual subsidy, which have been revised to 400 000€ during the process… still, it is the first time I hear about a public authority giving money to a dockless bike-share operator! If the contract is properly written, including penalties as for classical station-based schemes, it will gives all necessary levers to the municipality to ask for a great quality of service (this is one of the main weakness of most dockless bike-share schemes) and manage better the parking issues.
Bologna chose to operate 2500 bicycles, including 250 E-bikes (confirming that Mobike has an E-bike in development), in 200 “stations” (prefered parking locations) for a better management and optimised usage of all the bicycles. They also asked the operator to open a physical “Information and assistance” desk for users. All seems to be driven by the user experience… just common sense!
You know what? I’d really like that ofo or some other Mobike’s main contender come in the city out of such a contract. It will be a great way to compare, and validate(or not) the advantages of a contract-approach to dockless bike-share.