Appsolutely not smart

Nine months since its launch, technical glitches have put a sudden brake on the use of SmartBikes

Published: 16th November 2019 06:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th November 2019 06:43 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

CHENNAI: In a bid to address the city’s air pollution and traffic issues, the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) launched smart bikes in February 2019. However, commuters rue that they are forced to opt for other modes of transport as the SmartBike mobile application is not user-friendly. Glitches include issues with locking and unlocking, registration and payment process.  

How it works

The SmartBike sharing system works through an app. You have to download the app on your phone, enter your personal information, and key in your credit or debit card details before getting started.
The bikes are placed in docking stations across various locations, primarily Metro stations. Each bike has a unique QR code, which you have to scan using your mobile phone to open the lock. On completion of the ride, the bike can be returned to any docking station across the city. 

Technical glitches

One of the major problems with the app is locking and unlocking the bike. “The application has a lot of bugs. After scanning the QR code, the bike remains locked even after the app says it is unlocked. We then have to call the customer care asking them to open the lock. Similarly, to unlock you must pull down the lever attached to the cycle. However, that too does not work. This issue is recurring,” said Anand Kumar, a regular SmartBike user. 

This reporter too had a similar experience on Thursday. Of the five different bikes, only two unlocked at the first attempt. For the rest, customer care service was required. 
Responding to this, an official from the Corporation said, “The problem is with data connectivity and not the bikes. If the Internet is slow, these glitches occur.” However, when this reporter tried unlocking different bikes outside the Teynampet Metro station, one bike instantly got unlocked, while two others parked hardly two-feet away did not. 

Another issue is the unending payment process. “After I fill my card details, the OTP page appears and the transaction does not go through after that. When I try multiple times, it shows an error message,” said R Pandiyan, another app user. 

Concurring, Pandiyan’s acquaintance, Venkatesh Jayaraman said, “The app does not accept payment through RuPay cards, but it does not mention anywhere about this. After you mention the card number, even a green tick appears next to that section, but your payment never goes through. After numerous attempts, when I finally called the help desk, I got to know this. The app must at least mention that RuPay cards are not accepted.” 

Also on the app, a few bikes show as ‘already taken’ despite it being present at the docking station. “After you scan the QR code, it says the bike is already taken. At times, even where there are bikes available, you will not be able to use them. This is a long-pending glitch,” said K Simran at Anna Nagar.   

According to official data from the Chennai Corporation, there is a total of 40 docking stations across the city and the fleet strength is 400. From February 2019, 80,000 users downloaded the application and 20,000 have registered. The registered users have completed 70,000 rides. 


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