Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, has begun a new bicycle share program which loosely mirrors similar programs featured in prominent cities throughout the world. These type of programs provide rental bicycles at reasonable rates to daily users in an effort to encourage the use of bicycles, rather than cars, for short distance and quick errand trips in popular yet congested city areas. The Bangkok program has been dubbed the “Pun Pun Bike Share Program” and began with the introduction of its first two, of a planned fifty, stations at the end of October 2012. Each station holds eight bicycles and when all fifty stations have been completed, Bangkok will be served by a fleet of 400 rental bikes.
The two operating stations are located at Chamchuri Square (MRT Sam Yan Station) and Siam Square (BTS Sukhumvit or Silom Line – Siam station Exit 4).
BicycleThailand.com recently visited the Siam Square station to get a run down on how exactly the process of renting a bicycle from the Pun Pun Bike Share program works.
Although the program’s website (www.punpunbikeshare.com) and pamphlet (which is available at the bike share stations) are currently only in Thai language, the process is fairly simple to figure out and there is a growing base of English language information about the program on the related FaceBook page at www.facebook.com/Punpunbikeshare
How to become a bike share program member:
- Visit one of the bike share program stations (all fifty stations are planned for completion by February 2013).
- Complete the application form and present it and an identification card (Passport for foreigners or a national ID or civil service card for Thais) to the staff member present at the bike share program station. You will be photographed by the staff member.
- Pay the membership registration fee of 320 Thai Baht. This amount covers the 220 Thai Baht membership fee and places a credit of 100 Thai Baht on your member card.
- Receive your member card. You will be able to choose your own distinct PIN number for your card. Members are encouraged NOT to share their cards or PIN numbers with others. You are now ready to rent and return bicycles at any of the bike share program stations.
How to rent and return a bicycle at any bike share program station:
- Insert your card and enter your PIN # at the ATM-like machine directly adjacent to the bicycle rack. Your credit balance will display and after you have chosen a bicycle it will be electronically released from the bicycle rack system, ready for your use.
- When you want to return a bicycle to a station, simply insert it into an open space on the bicycle rack system and swipe your card. Your card will be debited an amount dependent upon how long the bicycle was in use.
- Bicycles can be picked up and dropped off at any bike share program station. Member cards can also be ‘topped up’ with credit at any bike share program station. The bicycles are ‘tracked’ using GPS.
Bicycle rental rates:
- Up to 15 minutes = FREE!
- 15 minutes up to 1 Hour = 10 Thai Baht
- 1-3 Hours = 20 Thai Baht
- 3-5 Hours = 40 Thai Baht
- 5-6 Hours = 60 Thai Baht
- 6-8 Hours = 80 Thai Baht
- 8+ Hours = 100 Thai Baht*
*Bicycles are intended for a maximum of one day’s use. Overnight and multiple day rentals are prohibited. Bicycles MUST be returned to a bike share program station prior to closing. Staff will telephone you at your registered phone number to remind you of this if you have a bicycle in your possession and it is approaching the closing time of the bike share program station (8pm). Any bicycle that is not returned will incur a 500 Thai Baht (per day) penalty fee to the member card which was used to rent it.
While the initial offerings of only two stations equipped with 16 bicycles seems a bit limited to counteract the behemoth traffic jams of Bangkok, or to launch the city into the top spot on next year’s “Best Cycling Cities of the World” list, the admitted ‘pilot phase’ of this program does at least exhibit the city’s willingness to investigate and invest in alternative methods of transport for its citizens. And because of that, we here at BicycleThailand.com do hope that this program proceeds and succeeds.