Metro Bike-Share Update: 2016 Opening On Track, With No Title Sponsor

Preview of what Metro bike-share bikes will look like when they arrive in downtown L.A. in mid-2016. Image via Metro staff report
Preview of what Metro bike-share bikes will look like when they arrive in downtown L.A. in mid-2016. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]
A few new bike-share details emerged at yesterday’s Metro Planning and Programming Committee meeting. Overall, Metro bike-share is on track to open in mid-2016 in downtown Los Angeles with 1000+bikes at 60+kiosks.

The bike-share item before the committee was just a receive and file update [PDF], with no action taken.

Metro published a request for proposals for bike-share title sponsorship in July. No sponsors submitted proposals by the late-August deadline, so system implementation is planned to proceed without a title sponsor. Metro staff are arranging for a contract modification to bring their bike-share vendor, Bicycle Transportation Systems (BTS), in to assist with procuring sponsorship. After boardmember Sheila Kuehl stressed the need that a sponsor be “suitable,” Metro staff clarified that BTS would provide technical assistance, but selection of a sponsor would ultimately be up to Metro.

Staff clarified that lack of a title sponsor would not impact the initial roll-out in 2016, but leaves some questions over where continuing Metro funding would come from.

One of the key questions facing Metro is “interoperability.” With Santa Monica opening its Breeze bike-share this year, Metro’s board and others have been pressing to make multiple local systems as easy as possible for riders to use. 

Metro staff reported that they have been meeting with Santa Monica (and other cities moving forward with a similar incompatible system: Long Beach, West Hollywood, and Beverly Hills) regarding interoperability. Metro staff were evasive when asked exactly shape interoperabiltiy will look like. Staff stated that all bike-share system operators are “excited about” accepting Metro TAP cards, but that reciprocal membership and aligned fare structures did not seem likely.

Metro is still coming up with its bike-share fare structure, due to come to the Metro board in November. Staff alluded that Metro’s bike-share fare would “look like transit” and be “as affordable as possible.” Boardmember Hilda Solis encouraged pricing bike-share membership with “cushioning” to make sure it is accessible to low income riders.

In a separate agenda item, the committee also approved Metro’s bi-annual Call for Projects, where Metro grants transportation project funding to local municipalities. Included in this year’s Call are funding for bike-share implementation in the cities of Pasadena, Beverly Hills, and West Hollywood.

In related news, Santa Monica Next reports that Santa Monica’s Breeze bike-share bikes have arrived.

  • Steven White

    I’m glad to hear they’re still focused on making the price structure “look like transit.” I’m hoping that the final outcome will still be priced AS transit. A bike share ride that is the same as a bus boarding or train boarding, including transfers and all that jazz, would truly be the best outcome.

  • AJ

    Sad to see they ditched the white for grey. These aren’t very eye popping or visible – they look like asphalt.

  • Dennis_Hindman

    A bike sharing system cost more money to maintain and operate than the user fees that are generated. If there is no advertising or sponsorship, then there has to be funds coming from another source to offset the lack of adequate amounts of user fees. Part of that money is expected to come from the 5% set aside from the local Measure R sales tax revenue that is used for discretionary spending for on-street improvements for bicycling such as sharrows and bike lanes. There is currently about $2.1 million annually of local Measure R money dedicated to bicycle infrastructure. This bicycle sharing system could drain 100’s of thousands of dollars annually from that pot of funds.

  • Joe Linton

    Well, if they say it’s going to work like transit, maybe Metro’s aiming for a 30%-35% fare recovery rate for bike-share, no?

  • Dennis_Hindman

    Without advertising or sponsorship, there has to be $1,709,382 brought in annually from user fees to offset the portion of costs for maintenance and operations that the city of Los Angeles is responsible for (65%). Otherwise, the city of Los Angeles will take money from the Local Transportation Fund (TDA) and the Measure R Local Return 5% set-aside for bicycle programs to make up the difference.

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