August 3, 2016

Daily Durning: Single-trip Pricing for Bikeshare?

From NextCity:
Bke share

I am an infrequent bike-share user. For one, there are no Pronto stations in my neighborhood in Seattle. But even when I lived in the system’s service area, I rarely chose bike-share over riding my personal bicycle. As such, I have no need to purchase an annual membership. But if there were an option to use bike-share the way I use transit — paying $2.50 to $3 for a single ride from point A to B — I would use it far more often.
For all the talk of bike-share being another form of public transit, the pricing structure of most major systems is nothing like bus or rail. In Seattle there’s the 24-hour option, which grants the rider as many zero to 30 minute-rides for free for a whole day. There’s a similar $16 three-day pass. Then there’s an $85 annual pass for frequent users. Boston, New York, Chicago and many others offer similar options.
But, there’s a shift happening in the bike-share industry as it realizes there’s a whole host of causal and infrequent bike-share users who don’t need 24 hours of unlimited 30-minute rides and don’t want to pay for it.
Launched in mid-July, Portland’s Biketown system is the latest to offer a single, 30-minute ride option for $2.50. Los Angeles’s Metro Bike opened a few weeks before Biketown and has a $3.50 single ride option. (Equally important: Users can pay for bike-share with the same smart card they use for the bus and subway if they have it linked to a credit card for payments.) …
Single-ride pricing is still relatively new and rare in American bike-sharing, so it’s hard to say if it’s been a success. But if it does prove successful in the cities offering it, its wide-spread adoption would mark an important step toward making bike-share the viable public-transportation option it has long been marketed as.

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  1. I think a single use or day price should be less than the equivalent transit ticket, as we want to encourage use as there are health benefits that we all benefit from in lower health care costs.

  2. In Taipei, where on average each bike gets 11.5 rides per day, a 30 minute bike ride costs about 15c. For comparison a bus ride costs about 50c and subway is comparable to here, although distance based charges. There is no signup fee for bike share and you use the same smart card for all these modes.

  3. In Paris, first 30 minutes are free. In the Netherlands, the bike share is tied to the railway system and the reason it was introduced was to minimize door to door trip times. We should incorporate both models:
    – First 30 min free for everyone (though you might have to register a credit card like they do in Paris).
    – At a minimum, connect bike share seamlessly with Transit and make the bike share trip free as an extension of a Transit trip.
    – Exemption from helmet law for bike share riders would be a bonus.
    So who pays? This should be the province, since it would be an investment in improved health and reduced ghg emissions. City could help since bike share is a really cheap way of providing mobility for the population. Automobile transportation and transit are already subsidized, so bike share should be free.

  4. The need for a membership is a significant barrier to adoption. Bike shares need to be set up so that you can “impulse buy” by simply swiping your credit card. I have my own bike and so I see no need to become a Mobi member – but I have no doubt that there are times when I’d use it if I could just buy a ride on the spot.

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