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Bike borrowers to face late fees

2013-08-14 10:50 Global Times Web Editor: Gu Liping

Minhang district will begin charging residents on October 8 who fail to return free public bicycles on time, local media reported Tuesday.

The late fees aim to encourage residents who borrow the bikes to correct their behavior, said Wan Huqing, an official with the Minhang District Commission of Construction and Transportation told the Xinmin Evening News.

About 1,000 of the 20,000 bicycles available through the free bicycle borrowing program had gone missing by May 2012, local media reported.

To give the commission a way to charge borrowers, residents will have to pay 325 yuan ($53.06) for a prepaid membership card to continue to borrow the bikes after October 7, the Shanghai Evening Post reported.

Each card costs 15 yuan, plus an annual fee of 10 yuan. Cardholders will also have to deposit 200 yuan to cover the cost of a lost or damaged bike and another 100 yuan for any late fees they incur.

Borrowers who keep the bikes for more than an hour will be charged 1 yuan for each additional hour, up to a daily maximum fee of 5 yuan.

The government began loaning the bicycles to residents in 2009 to help them commute between their homes and public transportation. Some 50,000 residents made use of the bicycles every day, the news website eastday.com reported.

Under the current system, residents only need to apply for membership card to borrow a bicycle. No deposit is required. Although the cards track whether borrowers return the bicycles on time, residents are not charged for returning the bikes late or failing to return them at all.

Some borrowers have kept the bikes. Others have left them wherever they pleased. Authorities have found abandoned bikes in parks and residential compounds, the Xinmin Evening News reported.

The current membership cards for the program will expire on October 8. After that, residents from 16 to 65 years old can apply for the new membership cards at specified branches of the Agricultural Bank of China in the district with their State identification cards.

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