Learning lessons From Vélib’ Métropole Difficulties

After ten years of operation in Paris and its surrounding suburbs, Vélib Métropole replaced Vélib’ as the city’s new, self-service bike-share system on January 1st, 2018. The system and operator transition that comes with this new system, however, has been very complicated. The switch from JCDecaux to the new service provider, Smovengo, should have been completed by March 2018 but it will only be realised in June 2019. The different failures that led to this messy situation has driven the Paris City Council to order an audit by the General Inspectorate to learn lessons from this experience.

With the geographical expansion of the Vélib’ service came a juridical question: what structure will support the service management? The year 2015 was almost entirely dedicated to the definition of this structure and it was finally decided that it was to be a mixed association called the Syndicat Mixte Autolib’ Vélib’ Métropole, or SMAVM, which would include every local city council within it. With around 65 cities concerned, and a service yet to be defined technically and financially, it was no small business…

Today, Vélib’ Métropole is a working service with 1260 active stations and 13 000 bikes (but still missing 200 stations and 7 000 bikes). 2018 saw half of all Vélib’ subscribers leaving the platform (from 300 000 to 163 000), and with a top day at 78 000 rides, we are still far away from the average 100 000 daily rides of the JCDecaux era. Let’s hope that the continuous improvement in technology and operations will bring light back to Vélib’.

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