TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Expats in Taiwan are fuming over being excluded from renting YouBikes with their EasyCard smartcards, with some saying it constitutes discrimination against foreigners in the country.
In the wake of an increasing number of injuries resulting from accidents caused by YouBike riders, Taipei's transportation department recently announced it was changing the YouBike rental policy by requiring real-name registration along with users' national ID number, date of birth, and other personal data.
The change was made to mandate YouBike riders to participate in third-party liability, accident, and health insurance plans. The new policy took effect on Dec. 1, 2019.
More and more foreigners have come to realize that they are no longer able to rent a bike with their EasyCard as usual. Some have written letters to Youbike Co. only to receive a disappointing response.
The Taiwan Foreign Residents Association Facebook page posted a screenshot of such a reply from YouBike's Taichung Office, which confirmed the public bicycle sharing service is currently only available to Taiwanese Easycard users. Foreigners must rent bikes with their credit cards, and NT$2,000 will be charged for each rental as a deposit, which will be refunded within seven business days.
Storm Magazine reported that foreigners in Kaohsiung can still use the southern Taiwan city's own public bicycle sharing service, City Bike, by registering with an ARC number. However, this is not the case in northern and central Taiwan, causing many foreigners to feel targeted by discrimination.
One expat told the media that YouBike is one of the most popular forms of transit among foreign tourists traveling to the island's metropolitan areas and warned that the new policy would dampen tourism.