“An extension of Prague’s public transport” – this is how representatives of Nextbike, the largest domestic bike-sharing company, talk about their upcoming project with the city administration.
According to them, Prague could become the first Czech city in which public transport tickets will include bike-sharing.
According to Tomáš Karpov, the director of operations at Nextbike, every holder of Lítačka could simply unlock a bike to get to a destination faster and for free.
“Right now, we are in the negotiation process with the Prague city company Operátor ICT and the city’s PID. We are discussing whether the idea is technically feasible at all. But if it worked out, it would be great for Praguers. I would like to point out that the Lítačka could then be used to unlock bikes from even our company’s competitors,” explains Karpov.
“Nextbike already operates in 23 cities in the Czech Republic, including Prague. Furthermore, we rely on support from city administrations in nineteen of them. It is a question of how something similar would work in Prague,” said Adam Scheinherr, Deputy Mayor for Transport.
Tábor, a town in South Bohemia, serves as an example of how functional and useful such a system can be. The town pays the company money to offer local citizens the first fifteen minutes of the ride for free.
It works similarly in Ostrava or Mladá Boleslav. “In the case of Tábor, the whole town can be crossed in fifteen minutes, so the system is extremely beneficial there. In the case of larger cities, bike-sharing works as an extension of public transport,” describes Karpov.
However, the idea of including shared bikes in the public transport system is already receiving criticism from Praguers. At the beginning of August, due to tariff changes, those passengers who were used to using one-off tickets when traveling by public transport will pay extra. The half-hour ticket will now cost 30 crowns instead of 24, and the 90-minute ticket will now be 40 crowns. Some feel that their money would pay for other people’s bike rides.
“Of course, the amount that the city will give to Nextbike will be taken out from the fare prices. So will I personally pay for someone to rent a bike?” writes Tomáš Löbl on PID’s Facebook. He is not alone in his criticism. “I also see it as a backdoor into the city budget. Let Prague take care of high-quality public transport and let people pay for bikes out of their own pocket,” writes Patrik Chrz.