Zurich unveils plans for 100 new bike rental stations in massive expansion
When you visit Zurich, seeing a Publibike is almost inevitable. The cycle hire scheme has proven a great success over the years, with around 1 million trips recorded in 2021. Now, the city wants to expand the cycle hire network and provide direct funding to the scheme for the first time.
Cycle hire scheme in Zurich fails to make a profit
With 170 rental stations and around 1.900 electric and regular bicycles, Publibikes have achieved a “cult” status within Zurich as a cheap way to get around, according to the Tages-Anzeiger. Serving the city, surrounding towns and the airport, the scheme is designed to get more people to cycle instead of drive.
However, the popularity of the bikes has not been reflected in profits, with the company making significant losses in the most recently available data from 2020. To keep the company afloat, in the words of co-owner Markus Bacher, "The city must contribute financially" as they do in similar schemes in Fribourg and Basel.
Zurich to expand cycle hire network with direct funding
In response, the city council of Zurich has announced “Züri Velo 2.0” - a system where the cycle hire scheme will still be privately run but will receive direct state funding. Plans have also been announced that will expand the network by 100 bike hire stations and 600 new bicycles, mainly in the Wollishofen, Seefeld, Schwamendingen and Affoltern districts.
Plans are also afoot to expand the network in the Glatt and Limmat valleys, where councils will provide small loans to instal bike stations in their local area. It is hoped that the construction of the new stations will begin by November 2023.
To take the scheme forward, the city of Zurich has decided to not automatically renew its contract with Publibike, choosing instead to open the service up to a bidding war between companies. So far, German international company and Publibike competitor Nextbike has thrown its' hat into the ring, along with Publibike itself. The deadline for companies to apply is mid-August 2022.