Today, the scheme has over 5,000 mechanical bikes and 1,000 e-bikes spread across 325 stations. This makes it the fourth largest in Europe.
A key turning point in BikeMi’s growth occurred in the space of just 24 hours during peak COVID lockdown.
“We performed a fully remote migration from legacy software to next-gen software, completely digitising the BikeMi system over the course of just one day,” Urban Sharing’s Head of Business Development Tom Nutley told Zag Daily.
“All 300+ stations were updated and the system was opened the same day that we did the migration.”
The migration meant that the operator – which owns BikeMi – was able to avoid the costly expense of ripping out its existing infrastructure.
“Our advantage over our competitors is that we have a way to migrate station based bikeshare schemes to a modern standard at very low cost and almost no cost on a hardware front, so it’s a win-win-win for the city, operator and user,” said Nutley.
The “transformative shift” with Urban Fleet
One of the big selling points of Urban Sharing’s fleet management software called Urban Fleet is how it could integrate with the BikeMi app.
Before, users could only unlock the bikes via a station based unit so the sign-up time was much slower as users often had to queue to take out a bike.
“Now 95% of hires are done through the BikeMi app with an easy sign up and pick up process,” the General Manager at BikeMi told Zag.
“At the same time, the launch of a hybrid system for e-bikes brought further green mobility options, while implementing geo-fenced virtual stations via the Fleet platform ensured optimal bike availability.”
Urban Fleet was also able to integrate the public transport system known as ATM in the BikeMi App and website, which has encouraged more people to use both the bikes and public transport for one trip. ATM has a daily ridership of over one million and is the biggest in Italy.
“This is a transformative shift. Notably, all these software upgrades were integrated without requiring changes to the existing hardware infrastructure,” said BikeMi. “Convenience, sustainability and flexibility are at the heart of our mobility system.”
An operator mindset
Urban Sharing began as a software department within the operator Urban Infrastructure Partners (UIP) that was founded in 2015.
“What this means is that, from our inception, we have always had the operator mindset at heart,” said Nutley.
Besides Urban Fleet, the firm has also launched a beta product called Urban Crew for smart fleet rebalancing optimisation.
Thanks to Urban Sharing’s optimal state algorithm, operators can get access to real time rebalancing predictions.
“We cross weather and traffic data in order to fine tune the quality of the optimal state of the system, all in real-time,” he said. “It learns patterns of use and can predict where your system should have bikes and docks.
“So everything we do, be it the way we design our products, to how we approach problem solving, stems from both technical and operational know-how. There’s plenty more exciting features in the pipeline too, watch this space.”