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Bike sharing system operated by the local transportation company MVG

Bikes at a station
Bikes at a station © MVG

Project aim and concept

The MVG planned to setup and to sustainably operate a station-bound, all year, user-financed bike sharing system to complement and to extend the mobility offers in its area. In spring 2012 the system went into service.

Rental bikes as a flexible complement to public transport

The service is operated on behalf of and financed by the MVG. At its final stage, the system will include up to 960 bicycles, which can be rented at 120 stations with about 1,440 parking positions. The rental stations are either located in close proximity to highly frequented public transportation stops or in areas which are not covered by public transport due to spatial characteristics (close streets) or low numbers of potential users. The stations provide a combination of a rental machine and a bicycle rack, characterized by an autarkic electrical power supply (photo-voltaic), and a compact and modular structure enabling flexible and user-oriented installation within the MVG area (learning infrastructure). The access to the bicycles and the fee deduction is organized via a chip card, based on a VDV core application (standard for all types of electronic tickets in Germany).

Modal shift to cycling and public transport

The conceptual idea to integrate public rental bikes and public transport was awarded within the nationwide competition "Innovative Public Bike Rental Systems – New Urban Mobility" in 2009. Thus the project was funded for the following three years by the German Federal Ministry of Transport Building and Urban Development as a measure to implement Germany's National Cycling Plan 2002-2012.

In that context, the project in Mainz should contribute to fulfill the following aims of the National Cycling Plan:

  • Increasing cycling's modal share within the MVG area.
  • Supporting a modern, socially and ecologically sustainable mobility, following the general principle "City of short Distances"
  • Supporting cycling as part of sustainably integrated transport policies

Initial situation and project implementation

Defining the station locations

The search for the locations of the 120 stations started in 2010, parallel to the other ongoing planning processes in collaboration with the Mainz city authority. For the coordination for the first 40 locations, a broad range of city authorities was involved (monument conservation, transportation, construction supervision, parks and gardens department, cityscape maintenance, public relations office and others), as well as the fire department, the police and the MVG. In summer 2011 their common experiences lead to a new process for location definition. Now, there are regular coordination appointments, including all actors involved and guided by an external consultancy.

System implementation and operation start

The first testing period with 200 "beta-testers" started in August 2011 with some selected stations in the city centre. The "beta-testers" were asked to test the system regarding functionality and user friendliness.

Stepwise user group enlargement in winter 2012

At January 11th 2012 the system was opened for the first 999 customers, following the slogan "Warmradeln für Eiskalte" (warm up through cycling for the ice-cold). It was the goal to expand the system and the user group step-by-step with further tests. Till the end of January all of those exclusive user accounts were assigned.

Starting regular operation in spring 2012

At April 21th 2012 the system started with regular operation for all users, including about 65 stations and 350 bicycles. In the course of time, the system further increased, up to 100 stations. Currently the network not only covers the city of Mainz but as well two districts of its neighbouring city Wiesbaden. The locations of further 20 stations are defined in dialogue with the municipal administration. They had been successively launched in 2013. Since it started, the system counts about 11,000 registered customers with about 145,000 trips in 2012. In 2013, significantly higher numbers were reached. All in all, almost 340,000 trips were counted within the system. The highest frequency of uses was registered in July, with about 49,500 trips. Until August 2014, the increase in trips by more than 15 percent continued, and resulted in more than 285,000 trips within 8 months. Furthermore, more than 2,000 trips per day were counted several times in 2014. The most successful month of all times was July 2014 with more than 55,000 registered trips.

Parallel to the opening in March 2012 a broad local media campaign was launched. Thereby MVGmyBIKE was presented to almost every citizen of Mainz.

Usage process, registration and fees

The system can be used by everyone, who registers either online at the MVG webpage or personally offline and who subsequently verifies at the customers centre. There, the customer gets a chip card, which provides access to the system, and is based on the so called "eTicket" for public transport.

The fee system is based on 30 minutes slots as well as on a fixed annual subscription. Customers, who do not attach for at least one year, pay a higher rate per slot, but not more than 1 Euro for every 30 minutes. Signing an annual contract, customers get reduced fees for every slot, not more than 50 Cent for half an hour. Steady public transport customers get reductions on every slot as well as on the annual contract.

Experiences and preliminary summary

Technical infrastructures

Currently (August 2014) MVGmyBike is available at 108 stations, providing about 620 bicycles. The locations are situated across the city of Mainz as well as in two neighbourhoods of Wiesbaden (which are as well part of the MVG area). A concentration of stations can be located in the city centre and along the Rhine river.

In January and February 2014, the system's software for management and accounting was completely substituted. Therefore the system was putted out of service for four weeks. Till April all of the 108 stations were successively reset, starting from the city centre.

Fee system and external communication

A futher significant feature of the MVG system lays in the fee cooperation with two local universities (University of Mainz and University of Applied Sciences Mainz). Buying their transit passes, students pay a flat rate for MVGmyBike, whereby a solidary model is implemented. Season ticket customers can register via the public transport eTicket. Through that offer, all season ticket customers can be integrated in the long run. The full integration into the public transport system is not only realized through a common fee system but as well through a shared communication concept, realized by the MVG.

Demand and usage details

Statistical data show positive usage trends. Since its opening in April 2012 more than 17,000 users registered in the system, 56% of them male and about 44% female persons (numbers from July 2014). Furthermore, about 145,000 trips were taken in 2012; 340,000 in 2013. Against the background of a further network expansion and an optimized bicycle distribution between the stations, at least 400,000 trips are expected for 2014.

Most of the trips are made within the central parts of the old and new inner city. In reaction to those experiences, major stations in those areas were enlarged and complemented through additional locations. Those measures already lead to short-term success, concerning the availability of bicycle and station positions for returning. For regulating the bicycle distribution between the stations, the ratio between the bicycles and the available station positions was reduced to 1:2. Originally plans were based on a 2:3 ratio.

Outlook: Which system expansions are planned?

The system should be expanded up to 120 stations. The number of bicycles should be increased up to 700. The station network expansion is mainly focused on the area within the Mainz motorway circle, starting in the city centre. Further general aims are to increase the bicycle availability and the system’s user friendliness. Likewise, the bicycle distribution resp. the availability of free bikes and station positions should be optimized in relation to the existing demand and to increasing user numbers. After the successful system installation, the focus will now be turned to the challenge of establishing a cost effective user financing.

Why is it an innovative example to follow?

Generally, a bike sharing system which is integrated within the public transportation network effectively complements the mobility options for the local population. At the same time, environment friendly mobility is supported and short car trips can be replaced by the rental bike. Crucial factors for a successful implementation are the high quality of the system and the close connection to the public transport operator, as the major provider of local mobility. Furthermore the large number of stations contributes to the system's success.


Governmental funds
Private funds (without sponsoring or donations)


  • in 2011, funded trough the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development(BBSR)
  • in 2013, funded trough the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR)

Project manager / parties involved

Project management: 

Mainz transportation company (MVG)

Project parties involved: 

City of Mainz

Project term

The project is estimated as on-going without a special end date: 
On-going since: 
October 2009

Public relation and documents


Ansprechpartner auf Projektebene: 

Project management MVGmyBIKE
Miss Tina Smolders
Mainz transportation company (MVG)
Mozartstraße 8
55118 Mainz
Telefon: +49 6131 12-6258
Telefax: +49 6131 12-6768

Head of the "strategic planning" unit
Mister Uwe Hiltmann
Mainz transportation company (MVG)
Mozartstraße 8
55118 Mainz
Telefon: +49 6131 126867
Telefax: +49 6131 126080

Kommunale Ansprechpartner: 

Cycling Comissioner
Mistet Bernd Mayer-Zawar
City of Mainz
Zitadelle Bau B
55131 Mainz
Telefon: +49 6131 123405
Telefax: +49 6131 122053

Date (Text as of…)
10. September 2014
Tina Smolders, Mainz transportation company(MVG)
NRVP action fields