Metro Planning Committee Approves Bike-Share Fare Structure

Metro's proposed bike-share fare strucutre. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]
Metro’s proposed bike-share fare structure. Image via Metro staff report [PDF]
Metro’s Planning and Programming Committee approved the proposed bike-share fare structure. Three payment options would be offered: a $20 monthly pass, a $40 annual “flex pass,” or $3.50 per half-hour for walk-up single use. For further Metro bike-share fare details see earlier SBLA coverage on the proposal.

Metro boardmembers Mike Bonin and Hilda Solis expressed “sticker shock” at the $3.50 cost for single-ride walk-up use. Metro staff explained that hourly rentals are anticipated to be largely tourists, and that revenue from these users would be important for the system’s financial stability. Bonin was concerned that hourly users would also include Angelenos interested in trying out the system for the first time. At the suggestion of Metro Planning head Martha Wellborne, boardmembers directed staff to look into some kind of reduced-price initial trial period to allow more Angelenos to get acquainted with the new system.

Boardmembers Bonin and Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker also pushed staff to allow for free transfers from bus or rail to bike-share. While this will not be available during the initial mid-2016 downtown Los Angeles roll-out, staff suggested it could be part of a phase of TAP integration due in late 2016. Staff cautioned that it might not be cost-effective. Further details of of the TAP payment linkages are expected to come back to the board in March 2016.

The proposal goes to the full Metro board for approval on December 3.

  • Asher Of LA

    Metro Honcho 1: “How do we make sure people don’t ditch the buses for bikeshare?”
    Metro Honcho 2: “I know, I know! Make ’em pay double to use a bike. Even though bikes have much lower lifecycle costs.”

    It’s also throwing away money by not offering a discount for an annual commitment. Plenty of people who’d ride in May won’t in rainy January. Instead of buying membership for a whole year, they may pick a few months of the year to ride. Penny wise, pound foolish. The more often people get charged, the more they gripe about paying – think of all the griping you hear about gas prices, but not car insurance or even depreciation costs.

    Santa Monica chose its smart bike style vendor because it could deliver more bikes at less cost than rival, non-smart bike vendors. Metro’s system is not a smart-bike system, which may explain in part why it costs so much more. If that’s anything to go by, SM made the right choice, and Metro didn’t.

  • calwatch

    Did you read the report when they awarded the contract? I commented on it at the time here: when Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom wanted MTA to throw out the RFP process and redo it again, a move that only would have spent money on attorneys and not on bikeshare.

    “CycleHop/Sobi collectively has the fewest operating bikeshare systems compared to the other firms. In addition, a reference for the firm stated there have been delays due to on-bike technology and supply chain issues. The Sobi smart-bicycle technology is so new that they have not had a chance to demonstrate long term viability and large scale reliability. This lack of long-term demonstrated experience and product success resulted in lower scores than the other proposals. ”

    Metro is using federal funds (Call for Projects money is partly CMAQ funds) and they have to follow a strict RFP process in order to not be a sole source contract. If Metro just approved Santa Monica’s plan, or even tried to put the finger on the scale too much, they would violate federal law and jeopardize billions of dollars in future transit grants. Metro made the right call here by not waiting and delivering something useful.

  • Alex Brideau III

    To me, the concept of “unlimited half-hour trips” doesn’t seem very valuable. I can’t think of a lot of errands I’d be able to run that take less than half an hour (including round-trip transportation). Maybe it would be easier for me to wrap my brain around a “first half hour free” concept.

  • bryan

    The unlimited half hour trips allows you to leave and return as separate trips, with an unlimited interval in between that can even include other trips of up to a half hour. If a single trip is over 30 min, it is easy to return the bike, wait 2 to 5 minutes and take another bike to continue (or pay the surcharge for extra time).

  • Alex Brideau III

    If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying I could check out the bike at bikeshare station A, drop it off at bikeshare station B (assuming the latter is convenient to my destination), and then make a separate booking to travel back from station B to A.

    That makes sense, assuming, of course, that my destination is also near a bikeshare station.

  • Azunyan

    So a bicycle is going to cost more than a Metro ride that goes farther? Please tell me why I can go from Long Beach to Union Station on $1.75 on the Blue Line and transferring to the Red Line, yet a bicycle going within a neighborhood costs twice as much. The stupidity of Metro’s insane fare policies continues to amaze me.

  • bryan

    Yes, precisely. That’s how bikeshare works in many large systems – Paris, Montreal, NYC, London I believe.. If there’s no station near your destination, you don’t take bikeshare to get there. Usually, the stations are fairly closely spaced in the area covered by bikeshare, though they thin out at the margins. I’m not sure what you mean by “booking”. No reservation is needed in any system I am familiar with. You walk up to the station and take a bike. If no bike is available, you can usually consult an app to find the nearest available bike, which typically is not far away.

    The LA Metro pricing structure allows for this usage pattern only with the 30 day pass. The other subscriptions require you to pay for each use of a bike. Most systems have unlimited x-min rides per day/week/month or some such. I find it particularly wrongheaded when the authorities say the expensive walk-up option is fine because it’s for tourists. Sends a great message to visitors!

    The system Santa Monica uses is a bit different from what I have described. Subscribers get a daily bundle of minutes to “spend” on as many rides as they wish. After you use your daily allotment of minutes, you pay some hourly rate for additional use, which is prorated by the minute.

  • Joe Linton

    It actually also allows this with a Walk-Up fare – which gives the user multiple trips (as long as you dock the bike at the end of the trip), totaling up to 30 minutes. You could bike from A to B for 7 minutes, park, eat lunch, then bike from B to C for 10 minutes, park, eat dessert, then bike from C back to A for 6 minutes.

  • bryan

    Oh that’s good. The way it’s written in the image above is confusing. $3.50 per trip up to 30 min and also $3.50 per extra half hour. I hope you are right.

  • calwatch

    No, the staff report itself clearly states that the 30 minute limit is per trip. It is not a timed pass but a trip based pass, like the pre-2014 Metro fare structure.

    “The proposed fare structure includes 3 simple pass options: 1. a “Monthly” pass for $20 that includes
    unlimited 30 min trips, 2. a “Flex” pass for a $40 annual fee that includes a $1.75 charge per 30 min
    trip, and 3. a “Walk-Up” for $3.50 per 30 min trip. The “Monthly” pass will have an auto-renew option
    upon sign-up. The first two passes can only be purchased online (on a computer or mobile device)
    however; the walk-up can be purchased with a credit/debit card at the payment kiosk available at
    each bike share station.”:

  • ExpoRider

    Joe: When you say “it” please tell us what “it” is. I believe from your context that you’re referring to the Santa Monica system.

  • Tanya Nohemi

    If you are using it to commute you’re better off paying $20 a month or the $40 a year and you get free half-hour rides. Essentially never paying more than your annual fee. If you are being a tourist in your own city, then $1.75 isn’t bad for a 30 minute ride exploring your city from a point of view you’ve never seen before! Healthier and funner than being stuck in the subway or in a car.


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