After summer revamp, faults plague Brussels' public bike-sharing scheme

After summer revamp, faults plague Brussels' public bike-sharing scheme
The electric bike option will have cost an additional €4.15 per month on top of the regular subscription to the service, which an estimated 35,000 people use. Credit: Villo Brussels/Facebook

Brussels' bike-sharing scheme is facing mounting complaints concerning malfunctioning infrastructure and delays in the roll-out of e-bikes only months after new features were introduced to the public service.

At the start of the summer, platform manager Villo announced the release of a new mobile app and said electric bikes would be added to its fleet this summer. Additionally, it swapped out old bike renting stations with new ones equipped with touch screens.

But over the past months, scores of users have taken to social media to signal broken down stations or problems with renting a bike.

"Many of the new stations are simply unresponsive to touch," one user said, according to Bruzz, adding that some also had faulty card readers and had been blocked on the same screen for weeks.

Mere months after the summer launch of the scheme's mobile app, users are opting to swap the public yellow bikes for the competition, citing complications while using the application.

At the start of the month, one Twitter user admitted to giving up trying to hire a bike through the application when the app asked for the payment to be completed with a digital bank card reader.

"I got asked by digipass to validate the payment—there, in the middle of the street! Pathetic," the user wrote, adding: "I therefore took an Uber Jump."

Jerome Blanchevoye, deputy manager at JC Decaux Belgium, the advertising firm that manages the sharing scheme, admitted that there were problems, but said they would only be temporary.

"The new touch screens do indeed have [problems]. We have already solved some and are continuing to sort everything out as quickly as possible," he told the Dutch-speaking outlet.

But users have said that the company has remained mostly unresponsive to their complaints, and it has recently been announced that the summer launch of the public electric bikes will be postponed to September due to technical problems, according to the outlet.

The Brussels Times

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