Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bikes for Bubi?

With the help of HUF 25 million (EUR 88,000) in European Union subsidy, Hungarian bike maker Neuzer has developed a new bike-and-dock system, and it was presented last month in Budapest as the ideal technical solution for the upcoming Bubi bike sharing scheme.

On September 20, city and government officials held a press conference to show off Neuzer's new suite of equipment, including bikes, docking stations and payment consoles. The system took the Esztergom-based company two years to develop at a total cost of HUF 60 million (EUR 212,000).

Company President András Neuzer told the press that his developers looked at existing systems and tried to correct their imperfections. For instance, several theft-prevention features have been incorporated, including a GPS system that will track bicycle locations.

In general, however, the Neuzer system would work like others that have been implemented in hundreds of cities around the world in recent years. The bikes can be removed from the automated docking stations with a contactless card, used for short periods and returned to any other docking station in the city.

The Neuzer bike-sharing system was first shown off in 2011, at an international bicycling trade fare, Eurobike, in Friedrichshafen, Germany. At that show, 11 cities had inquired about using the system for their own bike-share schemes, the company claims. At the press conference, Neuzer said that several Hungarian communities have expressed interest in the product.

Pál Völner, state secretary in charge of infrastructure at the National Development Ministry, said at the conference that the Neuzer system and Budapest's BuBi bike-sharing scheme have been developed "in harmony" with one another in the interest of developing everyday transport cycling in the capital. Völner said Neuzer can apply for the equipment tender for Bubi, which is being implemented by BKK, Budapest's umbrella agency in charge of urban transport.

According to the BKK website, Bubi will comprise 1,000 bicycles at 75 docking stations -- 57 in Pest, 17 in Buda and one on the south end of Margit Island. The scheme would launch in the fall of 2013.

Neuzer would be at least the second factory in Hungary to produce technical equipment for bike-sharing systems. The Dutch-owned Accell Hunland, based in the Hungarian village of Tószeg, produced the original bikes for Paris's Vélib system.

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