The CEO of Smovengo which operates the Velib bicycle-sharing service talks to the press at a Velib station still under construction in Paris. Photo: AFP
The grey Velib bikes — usually ubiquitous across the French capital — have been virtually absent for weeks because of the botched handover from previous contractor JCDecaux to Franco-Spanish firm Smovengo.
Autolib' Velib' Metropole, the public-private consortium that runs the scheme, pronounced itself “dissatisfied” and said it would penalise Smovengo a million euros ($1.22 million) as set out in its contract.
Velib will also refund its roughly 300,000 subscribers for the month of January as a “gesture of compensation” for the delays, the consortium's chief Catherine Baratti-Elbaz said.
Further discounts may be offered if the problems are not fixed next month, she added.
In October, Paris city hall announced a snazzy redesign of the bikes that would result in a third of them going electric, with the grand re-launch taking place on January 1.
But as of Friday, only 113 of the bike system's docking stations were working — well short of the 600 that had been promised by the New Year, with 1,400 supposed to be working by the end of March.
The disruption began before Christmas and the delays have enraged cyclists, many of whom rely on the hire bikes for their commute.