I am an infrequent bike-share user. For one, there are no Pronto stations in my neighborhood in Seattle. But even when I lived in the system’s service area, I rarely chose bike-share over riding my personal bicycle. As such, I have no need to purchase an annual membership. But if there were an option to use bike-share the way I use transit — paying $2.50 to $3 for a single ride from point A to B — I would use it far more often.
For all the talk of bike-share being another form of public transit, the pricing structure of most major systems is nothing like bus or rail. In Seattle there’s the 24-hour option, which grants the rider as many zero to 30 minute-rides for free for a whole day. There’s a similar $16 three-day pass. Then there’s an $85 annual pass for frequent users. Boston, New York, Chicago and many others offer similar options.
But, there’s a shift happening in the bike-share industry as it realizes there’s a whole host of causal and infrequent bike-share users who don’t need 24 hours of unlimited 30-minute rides and don’t want to pay for it.
Launched in mid-July, Portland’s Biketown system is the latest to offer a single, 30-minute ride option for $2.50. Los Angeles’s Metro Bike opened a few weeks before Biketown and has a $3.50 single ride option. (Equally important: Users can pay for bike-share with the same smart card they use for the bus and subway if they have it linked to a credit card for payments.) …
Single-ride pricing is still relatively new and rare in American bike-sharing, so it’s hard to say if it’s been a success. But if it does prove successful in the cities offering it, its wide-spread adoption would mark an important step toward making bike-share the viable public-transportation option it has long been marketed as.