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Paris Velib' customers forced to wait until 2019 for normal service

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Paris Velib' customers forced to wait until 2019 for normal service
Photo: AFP
10:15 CEST+02:00
The scandal-hit company charged with revamping the French capital's bike share system has said the Velib' service won't be fully operational until 2019... a year later than planned.
Smovengo, a startup based in the southern city of Montpellier, took over the running of the popular bike hire service in December last year promising that 600 stations would be working as of January 1st 2018, with 20,000 bikes available by the end of March.
 
But after a calamitous year that included multiple setbacks and delays, as well as users complaining about the wheels falling off their bikes, bugs affecting their app, a system malfunction spreading to many of its docking stations, Smovengo has promised that the service will be fully up and running a year late, in January 2019. 
 
The Vélib' operator has said that there will be 20,000 self-service bikes and 1,400 open stations in the Paris region for the beginning of 2019.
 
"Currently, there are around 820 stations and 10,000 bicycles available, including 3,400 with electric assistance, against about 2,000 bikes at the beginning of July," President of Smovengo Arnaud Marion told FranceInfo.
 
As a result of the disastrous roll out, Smovengo's contract is set to be reviewed on September 21st and faces being scrapped. 
 
"Very honestly, if there was a cancellation today, I would not understand it, given the work and investments that have been made and the degree of progress over the summer," Marion said. 
 
In January, the public-private consortium that runs the scheme, Autolib' Velib' Metropole pronounced itself "dissatisfied" and said it would penalise Smovengo a million euros ($1.22 million) as set out in its contract.
 
The disruptions began before Christmas 2017 and Paris cyclists, many of whom rely on the hire bikes for their commute, have been enraged over the calamity.
 
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