The poor planning of the Mérida City Council, led by Renán Barrera Concha, has taken its toll on citizens in one of the supposed “flagship” programs of the current administration, the public transportation bicycles known as “Merida En Bici”. Despite announcing that it would be free for three months, just two weeks after its launch, the Mayor reversed his decision and decided to charge for the use of the bicycles after one hour.
Overnight, it was established that the bikes would be free for only 60 minutes, and starting from the first “excessive” minute, users will be charged 30 pesos for every half-hour that passes without closing the trip and returning the bike to a bike station. This was never mentioned when the project was presented; in fact, in the following days, many people used the bikes for leisure rides on the Bike Path and were never charged.
This sudden change in the rules, without any prior announcement to allow users to decide whether to continue using the service under these new conditions, comes along with a series of sanctions for what the City Council considers misuse of the program, including fines ranging from 30 pesos for leaving the bike outside the station to 10,000 pesos for deliberately damaging it.
These new provisions “appeared” recently in a “pop-up window” on the homepage of the mobile application (App), leading to a document called “En Bici System Usage Regulations”. Several of these rules were not included in the “terms and conditions” that users accepted when downloading the App to use the bicycles. In other words, they accepted them without even knowing what they were.
As we previously reported, on May 17th, the En Bici program was launched, which Mayor Renán Barrera touted as an innovative mobility program with 300 bicycles distributed across 53 bike stations, covering an irregular perimeter of 32 kilometers in the capital city of Yucatán. At that time, the Mayor stated that bicycle rentals would be free of charge for users until August, meaning it would be free for three months.
However, just a few days after its launch, the program began showing flaws in the control of the bicycles: one bike was found in Akil, despite the supposed team of people monitoring the location of all bikes through GPS tracking. Shortly after, it was reported on social media that one person had not just one but three bicycles inside their house. Another bike was found parked outside a bar’s entrance.
The authority’s “reaction” was to come up with this regulation out of thin air, which they published without warning in a section of the mobile application. The document confirmed some of the penalties established in the “terms and conditions” and “created” others. For example, the “fine” of 500 pesos for “retaining” vehicles at a residence, a measure that was clearly improvised after an image of the bicycles inside a house went viral on social media.
Further on, the City Council established other fines for “violations” of the usage regulations, some of which are frankly excessive. From now on, if a bike is left outside a station within the permitted 32-kilometer perimeter, the user will be charged 30 pesos, but the bike will be outside the designated area, resulting in a fine of 500 pesos. The monetary penalty for deliberate damage, referred to as vandalism, is 10,000 pesos, which is the equivalent of the total cost assigned to a complete loss of a bicycle.
Regarding the fine for excessive use, meaning more than one hour, the user will be charged 30 pesos for each half-hour or fraction thereof. It doesn’t matter if it only took a second over the hour mark; the user will still have to pay that amount. The rule specifies that payment is per half-hour or fraction. For example, according to the document, a trip of one hour and 35 minutes will result in a charge of 60 pesos, meaning 30 pesos for the first extra half-hour and another 30 pesos for just five minutes of the following half-hour.