The Kochi metro is back with its cycle sharing plan for the city and this time for a year. Commuters can now use Kochi Metro Rail Ltd (KMRL) bicycles for free, to go anywhere within city limits. The cycles can be dropped at any of the 8 docking stations around the city.
The plan was inaugurated on Monday by KMRL Managing director Mohammed Hanish at the MG Road Metro Station parking lot. Currently, bicycle sharing service will be available from Maharaja's College Metro Station to Edapalli Metro Station.
â€śWe have provided about 50 cycles for the 8 stations starting from the Maharajaâ€™s College Metro which is at the core of the city all the way to the Edapalli station which is the last one within city limits. All the docking stations will be attached to the metros. The idea is to create a network of bicycle stands that connects stations to school and colleges and other public areas,â€ť said Athirup M, founder of Athi Bicycle Club who are the service providers of the program.
The program sponsored by Axis Bank is based on a membership program in which users have to get enrolled. The service will also be expanded in the future depending on the number of volunteers who are ready to provide space for cycle stations.
â€śThis is a sponsorship program. So if any of the colleges, schools, libraries etc. who want to join the cycle network volunteer to provide space for cycle stations we will set it up there. This way the network will expand.â€ť
To use the cycles, users will have to send a text message. They will receive a code via text message which can be used to unlock the cycles. On returning the cycles, users have to ensure they are locked. The facility allows 100 hours of free cycling every month after which it gets automatically blocked for the user. The cycles have to be returned within 24 hours and any problems or damages to them need to be reported.
Contrary to reports which state that the previous attempt at opening a public cycle sharing system was unsuccessful, Athirup stated that it was a trial that was meant to be for three months and was funded by himself. Cycle stands were set up at prime locations that included Kaloor, Kaloor-Kadavanthara road, KTDC on Vivekananda Road, Ernakulam North Railway Station, Menaka Junction etc.
â€śI funded the last initiative for 3 months and with those results, we approached the Axis bank for funding. They agreed to fund us only because the last attempt saw active participation. This year, we moved those racks, which are portable, to the nearby metro stations,â€ť said Athirup.
Members can register by sending their name, profession and address/email as a text message to 9645511155. The facility can be availed by sending a text message of the bicycle code to the same number. There is also a helpline number (9744011777) to report damages to the bicycle and other issues.