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The announcement was made at a joint press conference in early November held by Budapest Mayor István Tarlos and Mol President Zsolt Hernádi. The two wheeled out the system's new bikes, produced by Budapest-based Csepel company and sporting Mol's logo and green-and-red corporate colours.
According to the three-year sponsorship deal, Mol will fund the system to the tune of HUF 122 million a year, about half the system's expected annual operating costs HUF 250 million. The city forecasts user revenues of HUF 70 million, with the remaining cost, about HUF 50 million, to be covered by a municipal subsidy.
Ninety percent of Bubi's capital financing, nearly HUF 900 million, will be covered by the EU. This poses some restrictions on corporate sponsorship, but according to the Budapest Transport Centre (BKK), the arrangment is OK as long as it doesn't earn the city a profit.
This isn't Mol's first foray into the cycling business. A couple years ago, it introduced "bicycle points" (bringapontok) at its filling stations. Found at about a third of Mol's 365 stations, bicycle points are essentially branded shelves full of innertubes, patch kits, locks and other cycling paraphernalia. Mol has also carried out various bike-related marketing efforts, including mobile bike repair stations during summer at the Balaton and, on at least one occasion, sponsorship of the bike valet parking system at the Sziget Festival.
Mol's Hernádi noted that "Mol wants to serve all road users, regardless of what travel mode or fuel they use."
For his part, Tarlos noted that cycling levels in Budapest have multiplied by five times since 1994 and that there was a need to "simplify the city's transport system and expand the range of public transport alternatives." With the launch of Bubi, "the first aim is the development of the cycling culture," he said.
In preparation for Bubi's launch, forecast for April 2014, the city is implementing several small measures to improve cycling conditions on the roads inside the system's downtown service area. The improvements will cover more than 100 roads -- with the glaring exception of the nagykörút. Installation of Bubi's 74 docking stations is slated to begin in February, Tarlos said.