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T-Bike, the Last Mile of Tainan’s Public Transport System

Tainan City’s T-Bike Public Bicycle Rental System (“T-Bike”), an urban bicycle sharing network, was officially launched into use on August 8, 2016. Designed for both commuting and recreational use, T-Bike not only provides a solution to the last mile problem for commuters, but also offers tourists a fun way to roam around the city. T-Bike rental stations are already in place in Tainan Metropolitan Park, Chimei Museum, and Southern Taiwan Science Park. Within the next year, others will be set up at all locations where there is significant demand for them from tourists and local residents, with the target of having 50 stations in place by March 2017.

Nowadays, with the rise of environmental awareness, governments all over the world are taking environmental issues seriously. Tainan City Government is no exception. Strongly committed to being a good custodian of the environment, it attaches high importance to reducing air pollution, promoting energy conservation, and curbing greenhouse gas emissions. Since motorized transport is a main source of air pollution, a heavy consumer of energy, and a major contributor to carbon emissions, any initiative that can reduce its use will deliver big benefits for the environment. An obvious way to achieve this is by encouraging people to use bicycles instead of motor vehicles, hence the rising popularity of bicycle sharing schemes around the world. Cycling not only emits zero pollution and consumes zero energy, but in combination with a comprehensive network of bike paths, can help reduce traffic congestion while providing effective and enjoyable exercise for people of all ages.

Over the years, the City Government has been putting a lot of effort into improving Tainan’s public transport system. Although the bus service is now a lot more comprehensive, many passengers still face difficulties getting to destinations that are not within easy walking distance of bus stops. By providing bicycles for last-mile rides, the T-Bike scheme substantially alleviates this problem, encouraging residents and visitors to share the bicycles and reduce the use of private motor vehicles. The launch of the T-Bike service has made Tainan’s public transport system essentially complete.

Hailing the launch of this service, Tainan Mayor William Lai (Lai Ching-te) said that T-Bikes have been custom-made for Tainan City, and represent the birth of a new lifestyle in the city. He also emphasized that T-Bike is going to expand the possibilities for local tourism. In the past, most visitors traveled around Tainan by bus. But from now on, T-Bikes will offer much greater flexibility of transport options, enabling tourists to explore the city more easily and thoroughly, enjoy a fuller experience of its many attractions and charms, and cause minimal pollution while doing so. The rental process is simple, and payment can be made with any registered iPass card. Rental instructions have been posted online in English and Japanese as well as Chinese, and can be perused with ease on a mobile device.

The T-Bike is designed and manufactured locally. Michael C.Y. Chang, Director-General of Tainan’s Bureau of Transportation, expects the T-Bike scheme to deliver additional economic benefits for Tainan in terms of heightened output value of related local industries and the creation of new job opportunities. Moreover, local bicycle makers’ involvement in the manufacture of T-Bikes opens up bright prospects for their business expansion through the development of a new export-oriented business model.

A study on the environmental benefits of the T-Bike scheme estimates that it will reduce CO2 emissions by 200,000 metric tons per year. Tainan City Government believes that establishing an eco-friendly bike sharing network is an essential step toward becoming a low-carbon city. The T-Bikes are painted in bright shades of leafy green with highlights of sunny yellow, making them both eye-catching and eye-pleasing. These colors and the T-Bike logo represent the warm and cheery allure of Tainan’s living environment. They also symbolize the eco-friendliness of T-Bikes, and Tainan’s determined aspiration to become a low-carbon city.