Barcelona is planning large increases in 2013 for its Bicing bike-sharing scheme. The cost of an annual subscription will go from €45 to €97.50 but at the same time the city will introduce a new €42 subscription for 50 journeys with a possible top-up system after that.
Bicing was inaugurated in 2007 and was among the first available in Europe. Subscribers to the scheme can use any of the 6,000 bicycles at about 400 stations around the city for 30 minutes free of charge. After 30 minutes the hire is .70 cents per half hour up to an hour, then the price goes up to €4.20 for every hour after that.
The scheme, which is only available for Barcelona residents, is designed for short hops around the city – the bike stands are in Ciutat Vella, Eixample, Sant Martí and Gràcia – and about 95 per cent of all journeys are less than the 30-minute-free allowance.
There are about 120,000 subscribers at present but critics of the increases say that it will make the scheme more expensive than other forms of public transport. However the city councillor for mobility has pointed out that if a subscriber were to use the system 400 times a year it would be cheaper than public transport. It is estimated that most subscribers use the service less than 50 times a year.
Bicing, which is operated by the city in conjunction with an American outdoor advertising company Clear Channel Outdoor, is now running a deficit of €12 million.