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Rental Cycle System (RCS) and Community Cycle System (CCS)

by Masahiro Matsuura (August 2003)

In Japan, bikeshare programs are usually divided into two categories: RCS and CCS. RCS is much easier to operate, while CCS provides more convenience for its users.

Rental Cycle System (RCS)

RCS is usually operated at a single rental location. The advantage of this program is reduction in the size of parking spaces. In Japan, too many people ride their own bicyles to train stations and parking space is hard to find there.
Under RCC, bicycles are returned to the rental location in the morning by business commuters. During day time, students and reverse commuters ride bicycles away from the station. This counterbalance reduces the number of bicycles redundantly parked at stations.
In Japan, RCC scheme has been in use for a few decades. RCC's merits to its users are all relative to the configurations of parking spaces available for privately owned bicycles. In Japan, such parking spaces are hard to find and also the fee is somewhat expensive, which makes RCC possible. Bicycle is not expensive to own and operate, so there must be incentives other than operation costs (like the scarcity of parking spots) to make people feel sharing it.

Community Cycle System (CCS)

CCS has been envisioned since the first experiment of bikeshare in Amsterdam in the 1960s. However, it has been too difficult to realize until recently. Under CCS, rental locations are scattered around a town, and users can ride a bike from one location to another without the need to returning it to the original location. RCS may substitute only private ownership of bicycles, but CCS can be an alterative for walk trips and short train/car rides as well.
The difficulty of operating this type of program is keeping a right balance of the number of bicycles among locations. Bicycles may flock to certain locations at certain points of the day. The recent European experiments are all based on this CCS model.