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Buskerudbyen’s electric city bikes in Kongsberg and Lier, will be discontinued from January 1, 2024. Unfortunately, the bicycle service has not achieved a high enough usage to sustain continued operations.

The pilot project, which was launched in the fall of 2021, has been a collaboration between Brakar, Buskerudbyen, Kongsberg, and Lier municipalities. The service has been funded by rewards from Buskerudbyen and operated by Brakar.

Despite a positive reception and a gradual increase in the number of rides over these two years, the usage has not reached a level sufficient to keep the service running. In Kongsberg, the usage in the last two years has been around 5,000 rides per year, compared to approximately 1,100 in Lier.

Too small markets

The Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) has evaluated the scheme on behalf of Buskerudbyen, comparing it with the commercial offering in Drammen. The conclusion is that the market size is crucial for the success of such a service: The markets in Kongsberg and Lier are significantly smaller than the market in Drammen.

TØI further states:“The argument that privately operated city bikes do not contribute to significant public expenses assumes that there is a market large enough for users to pay for the service. In Drammen, this seems to be the case. Based on our assessments, these conditions do not appear to be present in Kongsberg and Lier…”

TØI also concludes that both services seem to have efficient operations but are challenging to compare since Bolt’s offering in Drammen also includes electric scooters, which are more popular than electric bikes.

Considering alternatives

Lier municipality is in talks with Drammen municipality about a possible expansion of the current commercially-based offering in Drammen to also cover parts of Lier. The political issue in Drammen will be addressed on December 21, and Lier municipality plans to present a case in the new year. If the proposal is approved, the collaboration will be implemented in 2024. However, this depends on whether there will be a provider of electric bikes in Drammen next year. Currently, Bolt is the only provider.

One million NOK is allocated for an experiment with a new approach to an electric bike scheme in Kongsberg, but this requires collaboration with local businesses.

The last operating day for the bikes under Brakar’s management will be December 31.