Metro Committee Approves Cutting Bike-Share Prices, Expanding System
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On Wednesday, the Metro board’s Planning and Programming Committee approved two staff recommendations that would grow and improve L.A. County’s fledgling bike-share systems. The committee approved a new fare structure that would cut prices and add new passes. The committee also approved “phase 3” Metro Bike Share expansion to additional neighborhoods around downtown L.A. and on the Westside.
If the full Metro board approves these next week, it should be a good step forward for municipal bike-share in L.A. County, which has come under criticism for under-performing.
Though Metro Bike Share is certainly used, the number of trips per bike per day falls below bike-share systems in other large cities. The system performance in Pasadena has led to that city considering “pulling the plug” – though the city is committed to stick with the existing system at least through October. Smart-dock Metro Bike Share is also facing some competition from private dockless bike-share (DoBi) now available in several L.A. County locations.
Metro’s new bike-share pricing, announced earlier this month, cuts the basic per-ride cost in half, and introduces new one-day and one-year passes:
- Single ride: currently $3.50, would drop to $1.75 – the same price as a single ride on a Metro bus or train
- Day Pass: not currently offered, would be $5 per day
- Monthly Pass: currently $20, would drop to $17 ($5 for low income riders)
- Annual Pass: not currently offered, would be $150 per year ($50 for low income riders)
- Transfer: not currently offered, bike-share riders would get free transfer to any bus/rail trips that accept TAP (all Metro bus/rail and all L.A. County municipal bus)
There is no definite time-frame for implementation of the new price structure. Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero stated that it would take “about 60 days” so, if approved next week, new prices could take effect around August 1.
The new transit transfer features would not take effect until new TAP technology integration, tentatively expected in Fall, 2018.
Earlier this month, the L.A. City Council approved bike-share expansion plans for the Westside and areas near downtown. See Streetsblog’s earlier coverage of the April Transportation Committee approval of the item.
This week the Metro committee approved their end of this same expansion plan. Metro actions taken (pending full board approval) include adding $35.5 million onto the agency’s existing bike-share contract, and designating specific areas for “phase 3” expansion.
Phase 3 Metro Bike Share expansion will be contiguous with existing service in two areas: downtown L.A. and Venice/Santa Monica.
The downtown L.A. service area will initially expand south and west to neighborhoods around Exposition Park and USC. This expansion, 22 new stations and 300 new bikes, is already funded via a state grant, and is scheduled to get underway this summer. Additional downtown-area expansion, anticipated but not yet fully funded, is expected to include roughly 700 additional bicycles in neighborhoods west and northwest of DTLA: Westlake/MacArthur Park, Pico Union, Temple Beaudry, Historic Filipinotown, Rampart, Echo Park, Silver Lake, Los Feliz, and Koreatown. For now, this area will continue to be served by smart-docks, as are currently used downtown.
The Venice/Santa Monica service area expansion is expected to convert to docked smart-bikes, which Metro staff report will reduce capital costs by approximately 40 percent. Westside expansion, not yet fully-funded or scheduled, is expected to include 700 smart-bikes the L.A. City communities of Venice, Palms, Mar Vista, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Del Rey, and the neighboring Culver City and Marina Del Rey, which is unincorporated L.A. County.
Though the bike-share landscape is volatile, the latest approvals by Metro and L.A. City affirm their commitments to improving, sustaining and expanding bicycle transportation. Metro claims that 60 percent of Metro Bike Share users are riding to make first/last mile connections to transit. Further TAP integration, lower prices, and expansion serving Expo, Red, and Purple lines can strengthen this green transportation connection, and can provide more Angelenos with more great mobility options.