Nice Ride gets $1.78 million for expansion of bike sharing system | Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal

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Nice Ride gets $1.78 million for expansion of bike sharing system From the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal.

This is apparently for a capital expansion, but as noted before, the system is quite expensive to operate, and requires more labor than buses on a per ride basis.

More to the point, this 4.5 million in capital (let's say the capital lasts 4.5 years, or 1 million per year annualized)) is for a system that served 100,000 riders last year, and probably will continue at a similar level. This implies a capital subsidy of $10 per ride (not as expensive as NorthStar, but not cheap either). Obviously if they double use, this halves the capital subsidy, but it is not cheap. Just sayin'.

3 Comments

I think the bigger question is where did Transit for Livable Communities get $1 million?

Just to poke at the earlier post you linked to regarding NiceRide's operation, the program officially operated from June 10th to November 7th -- 150 days. With 14 employees, that translates to 48 rides per employee per day.

I think NiceRide's potential for growth is very high, and I think it's highly inappropriate to assume that ridership will stay at the 100,000 level, especially as this expansion is going to roughly double the number of stations. A lot of people were wary about it at first. Considering that new users had to go through two dozen pages of a license agreement just to get authorized for a 24-hour subscription. My credit card didn't play nicely with their readers last year, and I was wary about using my debit card until they reduced the hold level from $250 to $50, and I know that reduced some of the demand.

Hopefully people who tried it out toward the end of the season last year will decide to get long-term subscriptions this year and be able to skip past obstacles like that. With a longer season, more familiarity, and a larger number of stations, I think they'll easily break 300,000 this year.

Will it be able to financially sustain itself? I'm fairly doubtful, but it's a relative pittance so far. I view bike-sharing as a closely-related cousin to the idea of personal rapid transit. If bike sharing doesn't work, then there's no way in hell PRT would work. I think the money put forth until now is worthwhile just to run that experiment.

In response to the first comment: TLC, through its Bike Walk Twin Cities arm, is the local distributor of funds from the federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, and I'm pretty sure that's where their money for the expansion came from.

It may be expensive to operate but it is profitable, according to an interview with their ED:
http://www.downtownjournal.com/index.php?&story=16046&page=65&category=92&viewComments=viewComments
Of course, that is because they don't have debt service thanks to the generosity of TLC and Blue Cross Blue Shield. Still, I think this compares favorably with bus systems if you exclude their debt service.

With their expansion plans they will have the lowest station density of any bike-share system I've seen, which will probably add to the operating cost. It's too early to judge I think.

David Levinson

Network Reliability in Practice

Evolving Transportation Networks

Place and Plexus

The Transportation Experience

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Assessing the Benefits and Costs of Intelligent Transportation Systems

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