The recently introduced Pun Pun bikes have sprung up pretty quickly around various parts of Bangkok city. After the huge success of the bike hire programmes in the west such as the Barclay Bikes (aka Boris Bikes) in England and B-Cycle bike sharing in America, Thailand has now officially caught on to this eco-friendly and useful transport scheme.
With the crazy Bangkok traffic jams, squeezed buses, rammed subway systems and slightly scary motorcycle taxi drivers, the Pun Pun bikes make a welcome addition to Bangkok’s rather congested public transport system.
Pun Pun Bike Information
To be able to use the Pun Pun bikes in Bangkok, you will need to first find a manned Pun Pun bike station and register. You will need to bring you passport with you to sign up, they will then take your photo, give you a card, pin number, and show you how to release and lock the Pun Pun Bikes.
Due to lack of people using the bikes so far, the signup fee has recently been reduced to a total of 120 baht – that includes 100 baht’s worth of credit. And that’s it! Cheap eh?
Again, due to Pun Pun unpopularity so far, hire prices have been generously reduced. For the first hour of use, bikes are FREE to use! After this, it costs just 20 baht for up to 3 hours use and, for 8 hours or more, 100 baht.
I can imagine many people will only be cycling short distances less than an hour away on Pun Pun Bikes anyway, so this is great value.
Pun Pun bike share stations are open for use between 7am and 8pm. All bikes have GPS and users will be fined 500 baht if they are not returned by 8pm.
Trying out the Pun Pun Bike Share programme
So, the city of Bangkok has put quite a bit of effort into the new Pun Pun Bike Share transport programme to encourage locals to try them out… But are they really a success yet? Recently armed with my very own Pun Pun membership, I’ve taken on the crazy traffic of Bangkok on my Pun Pun Bike…
After signing up at the manned kiosk and releasing my Pun Pun bike, I set off down the cycle lane of the busy main Sathorn road. There seem to be clusters of stations in certain areas of Bangkok while other districts appear to be somewhat neglected by the Pun Pun bikes – Sathorn is one of the few areas of Bangkok blessed with an abundance of Pun Pun stations.
However, after a 10 minute, sweaty bike ride to Lumpini, I arrived at the supposed Pun Pun station shown on the map and… it’s not finished being built yet. I checked the map for the next nearest station, Sala Daeng, and headed over there. It was about 6.40pm by this time – plenty of time before closing at 8pm right? Well, the manned station had closed early for the night so I had to search for yet another station. Needless to say, I was pretty sweaty and late by the time I’d arrived to meet my friends…
Problems with the Pun Pun Bike Share in Bangkok
It seems that the Pun Pun Bike Share programme in Bangkok is currently suffering a state of limbo, where they are still in the process of building stations and, to be honest, probably should not have opened it’s doors to customers just yet. Instead of updating maps and information accordingly to show users which stations aren’t open yet, the map is deceiving and allows you to think that they are ALL open.
Not only are the maps wrong, but workers at the manned Pun Pun stations sometimes decide to randomly close up early. You cannot return your Pun Pun bike to a manned station unless somebody is there, so this is seriously irritating.
I have also noticed that workers have a tendency to ‘top up’ stations on the evenings ready for the morning. They make their rounds on a truck, and completely fill up the stations with Pun Pun bikes up to an hour before closing… Doesn’t seem particularly sensible to me, so I’m thinking this could cause problems for some people returning the Pun Pun Bikes later in the evenings as there will be no spare spaces.
I really do hope the Pun Pun Bikes will be successful in Bangkok because the idea behind them has such great potential. It may just be worth being aware of some of these early teething problems while they are still in the process of developing the system though.