Metro Committee Approves Cutting Bike-Share Prices, Expanding System

Metro's new bike-share pricing went into effect this week. Image via Metro
Metro's new bike-share pricing went into effect this week. Image via Metro

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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.

Proposed new Metro Bike Share fare structure. Image via Metro, via Twitter
Proposed new Metro Bike Share fare structure. Image via Metro, via Twitter

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.

Metro Bike Share expansion is planned for Westside communities and areas near downtown L.A. - map via Metro
Metro Bike Share expansion is planned for Westside communities and areas near downtown L.A. – map via Metro

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.

  • Di

    This is mildly nitpicky, but who’s making these maps for Metro? “Sivlerlake,” “Ktown?” Super official-looking, guys. Not to mention the typography in the fare structures graphic O_O
    That being said, I’m glad to finally see some movement into logical areas adjacent to the original service area like Koreatown and USC. It’s incredibly overdue.

  • Nancy Johnson

    Typical failed social engineering. The bike system is under-performing because it is not appealing to consumers. And at the same time I see more and more Bird scooters out there every day. But rather than Metro scrapping this as a failure, they are doubling down by expanding the program.

  • Ben Phelps

    Well as long as people don’t feel safe riding bicycles, which they don’t because it isn’t very safe, which is natural because we refuse to build decent bike infrastructure to make it safe, it’s going to be an uphill battle.

  • D G Spencer Ludgate

    Hmm let’s see. $3.50 for 30 minutes of bike share or $5.65 for an Uber.

    I wonder why $3.50 didn’t work?

  • com63

    The free transfer is a fantastic idea. They should make it on both ends of a trip if desired.

  • Joe Commuter

    Wake me up when there’s infrastructure worth riding a bike share bike on. Also the current coverage areas overstate how well the areas are served by bike share. In Downtown LA stations are sparse and rarely where you want them. Think you can find a bike-share station in Chinatown? Think again! This expansion will set back progress because it’s not financially viable. Unless a sponsor comes on board, the money will run out, the system will be rolled back, and people will question investments in bicycling more than they currently do.

  • Jason

    So is the Venice/Santa Monica portion going to be integrated into Bike Share Connect (the name for the integrated Breeze et al SoBi system)? If not, will they at least be a different design of bike than the Bike Share Connect bikes? Because what a clusterfuck if they have bikes that look like Bike Share Connect bikes intermingled into the Bike Share Connect service area while not being compatible with that system.

  • But the excuse is that we need bike share to see where the demand is for building safe infrastructure in the first place.

  • 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)

    Would bus/rail riders also get free transfers to a bike share bike? That could be a real blessing and make the system much more usable. Of course, it does require that stations be located near the transit stops.

  • Joe Linton

    Good question – I will ask around when I am at Metro on Thursday (though the transfers are in a tech-update-stew that I don’t expect to happen until very late this year)

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