$8.7 Million In Funding Means Bay Area Bike Share Can Expand Into East Bay

The Bay Area Bike Share program is poised for expansion to the East Bay sometime in 2015 with the approval of $8.7 million in funding by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Programming and Allocations Commission this morning, an MTC spokesman said today.

The funding for the continuation and expansion of the program was approved unanimously at the committee’s meeting today and will go to a vote by the full MTC board on April 23, MTC spokesman John Goodwin said.

About 750 bikes would be added to as-yet undetermined locations in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. About 400 bikes would be stationed in Oakland and 350 in Berkeley, but some portion would also go to Emeryville, Goodwin said.

While the specific locations for the bikes remain unclear and will be decided in the coming months, likely locations would be office complexes, BART stations, college campuses including the University of California at Berkeley and the Amtrak station in Emeryville, Goodwin said.

The placement of the new bike share locations will be decided through coordination between city government, transit authorities, colleges and others to work out not only the best locations for the bikes but where the stations could be least obtrusively installed.

The bike share program allows members to pick up bikes at a station and ride them to another station at their destination. Membership in the program costs $88 per year, $22 for a three-day membership or $9 for a 24-hour membership. Trips of 30 minutes or less are free for members, 30-60 minute trips cost $4, and each additional 30 minutes costs $7.

The program primarily is intended as a first- and last-mile transit option for public transit riders, with docking stations at train and ferry terminals and at locations 1-2 miles from public transit, enabling riders to bike to their destination without carrying a bicycle.

To date, $11.38 million has been spent on the bike share program, including $7.2 million from the MTC, $2.8 million from the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and contributions from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, SamTrans and the Valley Transportation Authority.

So far 69 bike share stations have been installed in San Francisco, San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto and Redwood City.

The program has proven most popular in San Francisco, where there are 35 stations and 90 percent of the region’s 171,039 total bike share trips have taken place, according to a report for today’s MTC committee meeting.

Based on existing systems already established in cities like Boston, New York and Minneapolis, the benchmark for a successful and established bike share system is four rides per bike per day. So far San Francisco is seeing usage of just over two rides per bike per day, while other cities are lagging behind with less than one ride per bike per day.

The MTC anticipates that the program’s popularity will grow as more infrastructure is added and the agency conducts more outreach.

In the lagging areas, the MTC intends to conduct a more thorough analysis to see if the conditions are met for a successful implementation. Bike share systems work best when stations are about a half-mile apart, according to the report, so that people can comfortably get from one destination to another under the half-hour time limit.

Redwood City, which has averaged only 0.09 trips per bike per day, is looking into how to redeploy its system for greater success.

But the East Bay, with its plentiful access to public transit, dense population, and presence of major colleges and universities, has the greatest potential for the expansion of the bike share pilot program, according to MTC analysis.

East Bay residents are already interested. Despite the lack of a bike share program in East Bay cities, Oakland and Berkeley have the third-highest number of annual bike share members in the region, according to the MTC.

Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates welcomed the news in a statement today.

“Making it easier for our residents to use bicycles is essential if we want to increase alternative transportation,” he said. “And alternative transportation is a vital part of Berkeley’s efforts to cut greenhouse gases.”

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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  • John Smith

    Why is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission setting up bureaucratic spinoffs to established private businesses such as bike rental shops? Bay Area Bike Share will compete with dozens of private bike rental companies in Bay Area. Is it fair to use TAXPAYER MONEY to compete with private businesses? The investment to date in the Bay Area Bike Share system has been $11.7 million from MTC.

    A lot of things in life can be considered a success if money is no object. It is fiscally irresponsible to WASTE TAXPAYER money on a bike sharing program that cannot sustain itself. NPR reported in January that BIXI, the parent company of Bay Area Bike Share has so many glitches and problems with their software that New York and Chicago stopped paying them. At last count, Bixi’s debt was $46 million. Is it fiscally responsible for San Francisco (and the rest of the Bay area) to expand a bike sharing program that other cities are walking away from?

    1. How much has the bike share program cost taxpayers so far?
    2. What is the monthly revenue?
    3. What is the monthly expense to taxpayers?
    4. How are more bikes expected to influence the financial situation?

    In the end someone will be left holding the debt and losses from Bixi & Bike share company. Why should it be the taxpayers?

  • John Smith

    Dont forget to thank your elected leaders for **NOT DOING THEIR HOMEWORK** before expanding this disastrous bike share program

    From the Montreal Gazette:
    “Montreal taxpayers on the hook for tens of millions of dollars after bankrolling Bixi”


  • sfparkripoff

    BIXI (Montreal,Canada) parent company of Bay Area Bike Share paid
    themselves bonuses in Dec. 2013 before filing for bankruptcy in Jan. 2014.