Prague starts free bike rental for prepaid transit card holders

The City of Prague has launched a pilot project which enables residents to use shared bikes for free. All they need is an electronic prepaid fare for the Prague public transport on the Lítačka travel card. I discussed the project and its benefits with Deputy Mayor for Transport Adam Scheinherr:

“We think it is another added service that we can offer to our customers within the Prague public transport. It is one of the services that can enable them to travel the last couple of kilometres from the last metro station or from the last tram stop more easily. They can cover the last mile by bike, so it is easier for them to get to the desired destination.”

Is this a way to encourage Prague resident to use bicycles more frequently?

“Of course. It is mainly for the customers who have prepaid annual or monthly tickets. If they want to be more physically active or if they simply want to make a change, and instead of going the last stop by metro or tram or bus, they want to use a bike, it is free for them.

“If we look at cities to the west from the Czech Republic, this service is usually included in the public transport. So we just took the inspiration and now we’ll have to wait and see whether our citizens will like it.”

How exactly is the system going to work and who can use the shared bikes for free?

Adam Scheinherr | Photo: Jessica Petrů,  Czech Radio

“It is very easy. If you are using one of the bike-sharing systems, either Rekola or Nextbike, you connect the app with your Lítačka account, the prepaid public transportation account.

“If you have a prepaid ticket for the public transport, it is immediately connected and you can use the bike for 15 minutes for free up to four times a day.”

Why have you decided to launch it now, when morning temperatures have dropped to zero? Isn’t it too late for using bicycles?

“It is not easy to choose the ideal weather for bicycles. In the summer it is too hot and now it is not too warm enough. I think it mainly depends on how you dress yourself. I think that if you are using it just for a few kilometres, the weather is not a problem.”

“Also, we needed to launch the service when there are local people, when it is not time of vacations, and also when students are here. So we will let this service run for several month and then we will see.”

And finally, what happens if the service proves successful?

“If it proves successful, we will start looking for bike-sharing companies that could run the service permanently. And then they city of Prague will have a new permanent service for people using public transport.”