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View Full Version : Capital Bikeshare on the Mall, coming soon to a District near you!



PotomacCyclist
09-06-2011, 06:01 PM
The National Park Service is finally open to the idea of having CaBi stations on the National Mall and in East Potomac Park. While the deal hasn't been finalized yet, an NPS spokesperson said that current discussions are focused on how to proceed with the details, not whether CaBi should be allowed on the Mall at all.

The spokeswoman said that CaBi stations could be installed on the Mall and in East Potomac Park early next year, but there is no definitive schedule yet.

Capital Bikeshare Coming to Mall (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/dc-politics/capital-bikeshare-coming-to-mall/2011/09/02/gIQA1lv66J_story.html?wpisrc=nl_buzz)

Dirt
09-07-2011, 06:08 AM
That's going to be awesome and get used a heck of a lot!! Cool news.

PotomacCyclist
09-09-2011, 07:09 AM
Perhaps out of spite over losing their exclusive contract with NPS, Tourmobile is shutting down on Oct. 31. They are supposed to provide tour services for NPS through the end of the year.

The Tourmobile contract, which was likely an illegal no-bid monopoly award, had been one of the reasons why NPS kept blocking CaBi from expanding to the Mall. After local media reported on the problem with the contract, NPS quickly announced that the contract would not be renewed for 2012. Then they announced that CaBi stations would be allowed on the Mall next year, subject to agreements over exact locations and funding.

Competitive tour companies may finally be allowed to operate on the Mall and in Arlington Cemetery. But more importantly for cyclists, the end of the Tourmobile affair opened the way for CaBi stations on the Mall. A lot of unpleasant politics, but what would you expect in DC? At least the story appears to have a happy ending.

jrenaut
09-09-2011, 07:41 AM
Not only will this be useful for people wanting to get down to the Mall, but it should also serve the high-profit tourists more than the subsidized annual members. It would be awesome for CaBi to actually make a profit one of these days . . .

KLizotte
09-09-2011, 10:08 AM
Not only will this be useful for people wanting to get down to the Mall, but it should also serve the high-profit tourists more than the subsidized annual members. It would be awesome for CaBi to actually make a profit one of these days . . .

The fees riders pay may or may not add to CaBi's bottom line. For any transport system to remain financially healthy, what each user pays has to cover the marginal operating costs he/she imposes on the system. Any revenue over and above that is then considered a contribution to fixed costs. The reason why passenger rail services (and public utilities) are given monopolies (in most instances) is because of diminishing marginal costs; that is, as more users are added to the system, the average operating cost per user goes down. Therefore, it is cheaper for society overall to allow monopolies in these special circumstances. CaBi will only benefit from add'l riders (or any riders at all) if the fees they charge cover its marginal operating costs (I don't know if that is the case).

Covering the high costs required for major transport capital investments (e.g., rail lines, runways, etc) is very difficult since most investors want to see a return on their investment within a few years. Charging today's users the full cost of a capital project that will last hundreds of years (and benefit future generations) will doom them to fail financially; therefore, such costs are usually financed by government bonds/taxpayer assistance over many decades.

CaBi really shouldn't be expected to turn a profit just as roadways, sidewalks, libraries, etc. do not. Keep in mind that car owners do not cover the full societal cost of driving, nor do airlines (or their passengers) fully cover the cost for maintaining the aviation system (for instance, the FAA is subsidized by Congress out of the General Fund in addition to the user fee financed Aviation Trust Fund).

Getting off my economist soap box now...

Kathy
FAA Transport Economist (and former Amtrak employee)

jrenaut
09-09-2011, 10:17 AM
Oh, I don't expect CaBi to turn a profit. If you could attach a dollar value to the benefits to the community from having CaBi around, it would already be profitable. My point is that I think they lose money on annual subscribers, but make money on the daily users. So encouraging more tourists to come pay for a day or a week is more profitable than signing up annual users. And the more money it makes, the less clowny politicians are able to try to make a point by taking funding.

I think CaBi is a fantastic success. This time last year I had ridden a bike less than a dozen times since high school. Then I started commuting on CaBi, and now my bike is my first option whenever I leave the house to go more than 5 blocks. That wouldn't have happened without CaBi.

PotomacCyclist
09-10-2011, 08:29 AM
There are going to be a lot of one-day and five-day users for the Mall stations. Many of the tourists also tend to ignore the 30-min. limit so they rack up large per-trip fees. Even when reminded of this, some of them don't seem to mind. They are on vacation so an extra $5 for the chance to ride around Washington DC isn't a big deal.

There aren't any downsides to having Mall stations that I can think of. I just hope that when they roll them out, they do so with a big block of them. The stations will become extremely popular, especially during the Cherry Blossom festival and over the early summer. Bike balancing might be an issue. But it's also possible that if the stations are planned out well, then a lot of tourists will use them for short trips between the museums and monuments, and dock the bikes quickly.

DaveK
09-10-2011, 10:12 AM
CaBi really shouldn't be expected to turn a profit just as roadways, sidewalks, libraries, etc. do not. Keep in mind that car owners do not cover the full societal cost of driving, nor do airlines (or their passengers) fully cover the cost for maintaining the aviation system (for instance, the FAA is subsidized by Congress out of the General Fund in addition to the user fee financed Aviation Trust Fund).

I can't count how many times I've made this argument to angry frothing drivers who get mad at "them bikers" getting even a tiny share of funding. Speaking of which - http://www.bikeleague.org/blog/2011/09/get-ready-to-take-action-a-major-attack-on-bicycle-funding/

paytonc
09-18-2011, 11:46 PM
Two interesting points that make bike share different from transit:
- It actually can make money, and the business plan in Montreal says that once sponsors are lined up (which happened this year) and once the number of annual users gets above ~30,000 (?), the system will be able to break even.
- The operating costs are very high relative to the capital costs. Indeed, the bikes are replaced on a fairly short cycle, which makes their capital cost almost more like operating -- and the kiosk hardware is almost an off-the-shelf parking meter.

Anyhow, yes, the increase in daily ridership should be a significant financial positive for CaBi. Bicycling has significant positive externalities for society, particularly for public health, so while bike sharing should be encouraged regardless of profit it would be quite nice if the system is able to financially stand on its own.

PotomacCyclist
01-20-2012, 06:03 PM
I read that D.C. (but not Arlington) was already close to breaking even on CaBi but I don't know if that just refers to operating costs.

In any case, NPS is moving ahead with the plan to put the bike stations on the Mall. They have submitted the CaBi Mall proposal to the National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts for approval. If and when those commissions agree, NPS will issue a permit and the stations can be installed. The NPS spokesperson said that the stations could even be in place by the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival on March 20.

According to an earlier announcement, the stations would be placed near the Lincoln Memorial, the FDR/MLK Memorials, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Mall entrance of the Smithsonian Metro station. In addition to those locations on the Mall, CaBi is also planning to add a station near the Independence Ave. entrance to the Air and Space Museum. That station is part of the general expansion of CaBi in the District.

[CaBi is supposed to add 50 new stations in D.C. by summer, beyond those stations that were planned for fall 2011 and not yet installed. Maybe there will be more stations along Independence and Constitution Avenues to supplement the new Mall stations.]

http://washingtonexaminer.com/blogs/capital-land/2012/01/bikeshare-stations-could-bloom-mall-cherry-blossoms/2118591

PotomacCyclist
02-21-2012, 12:12 AM
NPS plans to install at least one of the National Mall CaBi stations before the start of the Cherry Blossom Festival next month. My guess is the location near the Jefferson Memorial, but I could be wrong.

National Park Service begins new shuttle services for Arlington Cemetery and National Mall (http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/national-park-service-begins-new-shuttle-service-for-arlington-cemetery-national-mall/2012/02/20/gIQATB9RPR_story.html)

EDIT - The first bike station on the Mall apparently will be placed near the MLK and FDR Memorials at Ohio Drive and West Basin Drive (West Potomac Park).

PotomacCyclist
03-01-2012, 01:37 PM
The National Capital Planning Commission is supposed to be voting today on the NPS plan to allow CaBi stations on the National Mall.

PotomacCyclist
03-01-2012, 02:48 PM
NCPC voted in favor of the National Mall bike stations. But apparently there are still additional steps needed. I don't know what other approvals are needed. Both NPS and NCPC support the station locations. Maybe they have to get approvals from agencies representing every letter of the alphabet?

EDIT - I believe they only need a permit from NPS, which should be a given since NPS has already said that they support the plan.

PotomacCyclist
03-02-2012, 11:27 AM
At the NCPC meeting, Harriet Tregoning referred to a document about long-term plans for CaBi that could include as many as 10,000 bikes!