Seoul's public bike rental service adopts English chatbot for foreigners

By Kim Joo-heon Posted : November 3, 2023, 16:11 Updated : November 7, 2023, 08:03
Courtesy of Seoul City
[Courtesy of Seoul City]
SEOUL -- Seoul's public bike rental service called "Ttareungi," also known as Seoul Bike, has adopted an English artificial intelligence-based service to handle inquiries from foreigners. The English chatbot was created to meet growing demands for the rental service from foreigners. The public bicycle rental service, launched in December 2015, has been used by urbanites who wish to travel short distances of a few kilometers instead of using crowded buses or subway trains.
Anyone aged over 13 can rent a Ttareungi for 1,000 won ($0.76). The bikes can be easily rented just by entering the password or through QR code-based verification method at designated stations. Regular bikes weigh about 18 kilograms (40 pounds) and small-sized Seoul Bikes weigh 16 kilograms. The rental service offers discount benefits for users with season tickets.
According to data released by Seoul City, the number of foreigners who rented Ttareungi skyrocketed to 49,905 in 2022 from 26,970 in 2019. In 2022, the cumulative number of rental service members has exceeded 4 million with about 40 million users.
Seoul said the operator of Ttareungi launched an English chatbot service for foreigners on November 3. The chatbot, which was only available in Korean, can now engage in English text-based conversations with foreigners. If the chatbot is unable to offer a solution, users can choose to speak with human assistants for direct communication. The capital city plans to later include Chinese and Japanese services.
Ttareungi service was launched after benchmarking "BIXI Montréal," the first public bike rental service in North America. The Canadian bike-sharing system that began in Montreal in 2009 was later adopted in New York, London, and Toronto. After reviewing many different bike-sharing services, Seoul has demonstrated various public bike rental services since 2010.
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