The Metro Board of Directors this month will be considering a contract with the company Bicycle Transit Systems (BTS) with Bcycle as a partner for a regional bikeshare program. Under Metro’s plans, bikeshare will begin next spring in downtown Los Angeles with 65 stations and more than 1,000 bikes.
Eventually Metro’s bikeshare program will include 4,000 bikes spread around nine cities and communities in Los Angeles County, including Pasadena, West Hollywood, Venice and others (see the map above). Bikeshare allows users to take a bike at one station and return it to any other station. In other words, bikeshare is really good for short trips that can often be made easier on bike than by car — one-way or round-trip. Bikeshare is also a great way to travel to and from transit.
As for the BTS/Bcycle team, Metro selected the Philadelphia-based company after a rigorous procurement process in which Metro staff evaluated several bikeshare companies. Among the reasons they were chosen by Metro:
•BTS and its partner, Bcycle, have delivered bikeshare systems on-time in other cities and they have a good track record with those cities and with customer satisfaction.
•The BTS/Bcycle staff have expertise implementing large bikeshare programs in other cities, including Philly, New York and Washington D.C. BTS operates bikeshare systems in Philadelphia and Oklahoma City. Bcycle, in separate partnerships, has bikeshare systems in Denver, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth and others.
•Metro believes the BTS/Bcycle team has the greatest ability to deliver more than 1,000 bikes and 65 kiosks for Metro’s pilot program in downtown L.A.
•The BTS/Bcycle team has also been working on allowing payment for bikes with transit fare cards in Philadelphia and Santiago, Chile. Metro wants its riders to be able to use TAP cards to pay for bikeshare memberships or rentals.
A Metro staff report detailing the procurement process will be posted online later this week. Here is a video by BTS that gives you an idea how bikeshare looks in Philly:
There is another significant issue involving bikeshare in our region. Prior to the Metro Board deciding in 2014 to pursue a regional bikeshare program, two other cities — Long Beach and Santa Monica — were already planning their own bikeshare programs. The start dates of bikeshare in those cities is still to be determined but the cities have chosen different vendors, thus raising the question whether their bikeshare systems will be compatible with Metro’s.
Metro’s unequivocal response: the agency will continue working with Long Beach and Santa Monica to ensure “interoperability” and a good customer experience for those who want to use the different bikeshare systems. That means Metro will be discussing common fare structures (including use of TAP as a membership card) as well as inclusive bikeshare memberships, consistency in marketing and possibly co-locating some bikeshare facilities for those traveling between Metro’s bikeshare kiosks and Long Beach and/or Santa Monica.
The Metro Board will first consider the bikeshare contract with the BTS/Bcycle team at its Planning and Programming Committee meeting on June 17. The full Board could consider the contrast as early as its meeting on Thursday, June 25.