A pilot scheme will shortly be launched for hiring of bicycles at railway stations around Israel. The pilot, due to start within the next two months, will enable rail passengers to alight from the train and hire bicycles at several stations.
It is still not known which bicycle companies will provide the service, and the Ministry of Transport and Israel Railways will issue a call for proposals for participation in the bicycle sharing scheme.
Two new players in shared bicycles in Israel recently arrived from China: Ofo and Mobike (in a joint venture with car sharing company Car2Go). Both operate through phone apps. Their advantage is that their bicycles have built-in locks, and in the case of Mobike it is possible at the end of a ride to leave the bicycle anywhere that parking it is permitted.
Israel Railways is offering the land for docking bicycles free to the bicycle hiring firm, but agreement will still be required from the local authority (which in Tel Aviv, for example, is not forthcoming, except for the municipal Tel-O-Fun bicycle sharing service).
The significance of the call for proposals is that there is no tender process, and in effect the operators are invited to station their bicycles at railway stations for the benefit of rail passengers.
The intention is also to give a 10% discount to rail passengers who take bicycles via the operators' apps. The aim is to encourage use of public transport and alleviate the problem of parking and access at some railway stations, with a project of construction of bicycle paths leading to railway stations getting underway at the same time.
According to a survey carried out by the Ministry of Transport in 2017, more than 5,000 passengers board trains with bicycles at peak hours daily. This is 35% more than in 2014.
The bicycle sharing project will begin at the Beersheva North station, and will expand in accordance with the degree of cooperation received from local authorities.
"As the pilot scheme expands, any passenger will be able to travel to and from a railway station easily and freely," Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz said.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 16, 2018
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