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Over the past couple of days, a horde of green bicycles can be seen at various locations in the institute at almost all times of the day. These have been introduced as a form of cycle pooling system to promote eco-friendly travel. ‘It has always been a constant endeavour from the side of the institute to build a green and smart campus. This facility will also help in providing seamless commuting and reduce both travel time and cost for the students,” said Ashish Kumar, the General Secretary Hostel Affairs (GSHA).

It’s a technology-enabled smart bicycle sharing service which allows users to rent bicycles. The cycles come with smart locks installed with real-time GPS tracking and solar battery charging. The procedure for booking of the cycle has been sent through a mail by the General Secretary Hostel Affairs. For the benefit of all, here is the procedure:
1. Visit PEDL inside the Zoomcar app.
2. Click ‘find cycles near me’ and navigate to the PEDL station near you.
3. Once near a cycle, click unlock cycle.
4. Scan QR code on rear mudguard of cycle to unlock.
5. For any mid trip break, lock the cycle without ending the trip.
6. To end the trip, visit any nearby cycle station, lock the cycle and click ‘End Trip’. For first time, linkage of PayTm wallet is essential.

 

The charges for a ride are pretty minimal with the introductory pricing being 1 rupee for thirty minutes. The charges are set to grow to around 3 rupees per 20 minutes in the long run. A monthly/weekly pass system may be introduced based on the demand to ensure better utilization of the service and reduced cost per trip. As of now, there is no restriction on the number of times an individual can issue cycles.

Regarding the procedure for selecting the service provider, the GSHA stated, “Since as an institution we are required to follow a fair procedure, we had asked for a proposal from multiple service providers customized with requirements in the campus. A pilot run of all the selected service providers will be done for 6 months and final selection will be done based on the feedback from students and the charges quoted by the service providers.”

One of the advantages of this system is the usage of the cycles is not limited to within the institute since the cycles can be locked and parked anywhere, the only catch being the trip can be ended only by parking them in the geofenced zones. Since there are no geofenced zones in Powai area outside our campus, you have to do a round trip for the final parking. As the cycles have real time GPS tracking, if a cycle is parked outside, users will be notified by a notification.

The cycles have punctureless tires, anti-slip chains and hence won’t require frequent maintenance but the service provider will be solely responsible for any kind of maintenance or repair. For PEDL, at the end of every trip the user will be asked to report problems, if any, which will be taken care of by the on-ground maintenance team. “As always is the case with public transport, all users are expected to use the services responsibly and not to indulge in any act of vandalism,” requested the GSHA.

When asked about the plan going forward, the GSHA said, “The service has been getting a really good response in the first few days. The service usage and demand will be monitored closely for a few weeks and the decision to change the number of cycles available will be taken based on the same. The number of geofenced locations, 30 at present, may be increased based on student feedback. More cycles may be introduced to cover the faculty and staff residence areas as well if any such requirement arises. 1 or 2 other operators will soon be pooling in more cycles for the 6 month pilot run.”

This seems like a great step in the direction of promoting environment friendly and cost-effective travel and has been greeted with great enthusiasm by the student community in the first few days of its initiation. The impact of this initiative on the institute transport system can be studied in detail in the long run.

(Photos via Nitish Fatarpekar)