Metro Bike Share Update: Cheaper Prices, Bye Pasadena, Hello USC

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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L.A.’s bike-share systems are in a state of flux. Just this week, Metro Bike Share slashed its prices. While the downtown L.A. system expanded southward, Pasadena formalized its plan to terminate its year-old system.

New Cheaper Metro Bike Share Pricing

In May, the Metro board approved new bike-share pricing. The new price cuts went into effect yesterday.

Single-ride prices have been cut in half – from $3.50 to $1.75. Monthly passes have dropped from $20 to $17. New $5 day passes and $150 annual passes are also available. Reduced cost monthly and annual passes ($5 and $50 respectively) are available for low -income riders.

Metro's slashed Metro Bike Share prices. Image via Metro Bike Share
Metro slashed Metro Bike Share prices. Image via Metro Bike Share

Pasadena Ending Its Metro Bike Share System

Tomorrow will mark the one year anniversary of Pasadena kicking off its Metro Bike Share system. Pasadena’s 375 bikes at 34 smart-dock stations was the first expansion of Metro Bike Share.

Metro Bike Share’s 2017 expansions to three areas not contiguous with its initial downtown L.A. service area represented a nod to political coverage, rather than mobility or efficiency. Mobility experts advise that smaller disconnected bike-share systems are “almost certainly a recipe for low usage,” as separate areas mean higher costs for fewer connections.

As has been pointed out by NRDC’s Carter Rubin, Pasadena also lacks a coherent bikeway network.

With few safe bikeways and limited system utility, Pasadena’s Metro Bike Share system usage was poor: 0.21 rides per day per bike, according to Curbed. Compare this to 0.74 for DTLA and 1.2 for Venice.

Pasadena's montly Metro Bike Share usage - per city memorandum
Pasadena’s monthly Metro Bike Share usage – per city memorandum

Earlier this month, Pasadena DOT issued a memorandum saying the city is planning to terminate its Metro Bike Share system. The document blames Metro for “unanticipated costs [for] planning, logistics and installation …prior to the launch” that “eroded the budget for the program.”

Per the memorandum, bike-share is costing Pasadena $98,000 per month, with the system’s fare box recovery at 6.4 percent. The memorandum asserts that bike-share system costs will exceed Pasadena’s anticipated budget, which was considerably less than Metro’s stated worst-case-scenario budget. Pasadena’s optimistic under-budgeting resulted in a shortfall in the city’s Measure R funding, which staff assert would impact Pasadena Transit (which, per 2016 data, operates at a 16.9 percent fare box recovery).

Coverage at Pasadena Now made it sound like the Pasadena bike-share system might shut down this week, but, as reported by the Pasadena Star News, the actual timetable is not yet clear. As of July 11, Pasadena has given Metro official notice. The system is anticipated to be terminated “within 60 days.”

Ride ’em while you still can.

Metro Bike Share System Expansion To South L.A.

Pasadena’s misfortune may be central L.A.’s good fortune. According to Metro spokesperson Dave Sotero “we will be removing [bikes] from Pasadena and later redeploying them in other parts of the county.”

Metro Bike Share has already quietly expanded its downtown Los Angeles system southward to South L.A. communities near USC. The expansion there, funded by a state Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grant, will include 22 additional stations and 300 additional bikes. Full implementation is scheduled later this year.

A month ago, the downtown system did not extend south of L.A. Trade Technical College. Viewing the current system map, there are already more than half a dozen new Metro Bike Share docks in operation in the USC area.

Screen shot of Metro Bike Share map shows new stations in South L.A. neighborhoods around USC. Screen shot via MBS website
Screen shot of Metro Bike Share map shows new stations in South L.A. neighborhoods around USC. Screen shot via Metro Bike Share website

Metro and the city of L.A. have approved bike-share expansion plans that smartly focus on new service in areas contiguous with existing Metro Bike Share. The downtown L.A. smart-dock system will expand to the south and west. The Venice system will convert from smart-docks to smart-bikes and expand into Palms, Mar Vista, Playa Vista, Playa del Rey, Del Rey, and Marina Del Rey.

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
  • ExpoRider

    It’s absurd that any Bike Share system attract less than one trip per bike per day. If a bike hub isn’t attracting enough riders, move the extra bikes to a different hub, or better yet, build more hubs! The more hubs you build, the more people you serve and the more connections each of those people can make. Your demand can grow exponentially with each new hub.

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