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Thread: Idea: Bikeshare/Metro discounted transfers

  1. #1
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    Default Idea: Bikeshare/Metro discounted transfers

    If Capital Bikeshare is viewed as a transportation system, and a publicly-owned one at that, why not have discounted transfers between CaBi and MetroRail, and CaBi and Metrobus? Transfers to/from the other area bus systems too (ART in Arlington, Dash in Alexandria, The Bus in Prince George's, Ride On in Montgomery, Circulator in DC, Fairfax Connector, etc.).

    This could encourage even more people to take Metro or CaBi. While many people live within biking distance of work, school or other destinations, many do not. (I'm using the standard of a casual or occasional cyclist. Some people here might bike-commute 10+ miles each way, but very few casual cyclists will do that, especially on the slower CaBi bikes.)

    A lot of people say they would like to bike, but their commutes are too far for bikeshare/cycling in general. If they had the option to have discounted transfers between Metro and CaBi, they could ride CaBi to/from Metro stations. Some people could do this at the start of their trips and at the end of their trips. Suppose someone lives near Shady Grove and commutes to Gallery Place. That would be too far for most people to bike, especially on CaBi. But if that person lives near one of the Shady Grove bike stations, he/she could bike to the Shady Grove Metro station in the morning, then take the Red Line to downtown DC and Gallery Place. If the office or other destination is still a bit of a walk, the individual could check out another bike near Gallery Place and ride to the station closest to the eventual destination. (I'm setting aside the issue of full stations in central DC on weekday mornings for now. It's a consideration, but Motivate has already expanded the temporary bike corrals to Union Station this month. Maybe more bike corrals are on the way, in addition to the two set up last year.)

    A casual CaBi user may not want to spend the extra money on a short-term membership, or on an annual CaBi membership. But there would be more incentive if the bike trips help to reduce the Metro fare. I'm not sure how this would affect overall revenue, for Metro and for Capital Bikeshare. There would be many factors: increased usage of CaBi and/or Metro, reduced Metro revenue from the discounted transfers, people changing from short-term to annual CaBi membership, possible incentives or disincentives for Metro riders to purchase one of the new monthly train/bus passes, and so on.

    Both CaBi and WMATA are supported by the local governments. (The federal gov't contributes to Metro. They don't own CaBi but they do provide some of the funding through various grant programs.) All of the local governments want to improve overall traffic congestion as well as improve the health of local residents. So there is an incentive to boost CaBi and Metro usage. (Transit riders tend to walk much more than those who drive to work/school. Very few people live/work immediately on or above a Metro station or bus stop. Most users have to walk to/from the stations, plus they have to walk a fair amount if they transfer to a different Metro line.)

    The necessary data may not be available to determine the effect that discounted transfers would have (on Metro and on CaBi). But someone could study the issue. It wouldn't have to be someone associated with Metro or the member jurisdictions of CaBi. There are plenty of smart and capable analysts who already study CaBi and Metro data on their own. Some post here. Some post on Greater Greater Washington. WashCycle has some of these posts too. BikeArlington, DDOT and other official organizations also crunch the numbers. Someone could come up with an educated guess. Then a pilot program could be started.

    It might be difficult to narrow down the effect that the pilot program would have on revenues and usage numbers, on Metro and CaBi. There would be many other factors in play: Metro service disruptions, weather, etc. But if there isn't a noticeable negative spike in revenue, at least it could be determined that a transfer program wouldn't be disastrous for either Metro or CaBi. (Metro numbers have already been falling in recent years, because of the weekend service disruptions, the smoke incidents, the emergency shutdown and so on.) If the program doesn't have a significant negative effect on revenue, then I think it would be worth it.

    Has the idea ever been considered? If not, what about considering it now?

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    Metro really has bigger things it should be focused on. The cost of an annual cabi pass is so low that I can't believe it's a significant barrier to many regular metro riders. It also means there isn't much room for a discount. If you want more cabi riders and you think cost is the problem, just subsidize more cabi passes. One thing I'm sure of, is that metro's ridership problems have nothing to do with bikes.

  3. #3
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    This is not something that would take up any time from safety, operations or maintenance personnel whatsoever. The software people would program this into the system, if it were to be added. Those people do not work on maintenance, safety, operations or management.

    The point is not just to target current Metro riders. The idea is to add one more (of many) incentives to get people out of single-occupant cars and onto other forms of transportation. If something can provide a minor incentive at relatively little cost, why not do it?

    Admittedly, I don't know exactly how many people would be needed to program this discount or how much that would cost. Metro already has occasional changes to fare and transfer pricing. When that happens, they need to reprogram the electronic systems. So they already have the system in place (or they use particular contractors to handle the programming). Since you have not stated how much this would cost, I don't understand your objection. This is not a major physical overhaul of the system or a large-scale project like the Silver Line. (One recent study blamed the Silver Line expansion for much of the maintenance issues, but I think the consistent underfunding of the system over a period of decades also plays a major part. A different article noted that Metro maintenance has been underfunded almost from the very start.)
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 03-26-2016 at 01:05 PM.

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    The reason not to do it is that it's pointless. At best they'll get flak for a regressive giveaway to the rich people who ride the bikes and that distraction is one more they just don't need. I get that you think cabi is the answer to everything, but it simply can't provide a benefit to metro that's worth any time or money investment at all.

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    Why not integrate bikeshare into the SmartTrip card network? You can already use the card with the Fairfax Connector, DASH, ART, & DC Circulator buses, & MTA, etc, so why not make it an option to pay for bikeshare use?

    I don't use bikeshare because for me it's not worth the hassle of becoming a member for the handful of times per year I find myself in a situation where I'd consider it as an option over a cab, Uber, a bus or simply walking.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AFHokie View Post
    Why not integrate bikeshare into the SmartTrip card network? You can already use the card with the Fairfax Connector, DASH, ART, & DC Circulator buses, & MTA, etc, so why not make it an option to pay for bikeshare use?
    Are there enough people who would refuse to use the credit card option but would use a smartrip? Even metro has talked for a while about getting rid of cards in favor of mobile payment.

  7. #7
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    The reason not to do it is that it's pointless. At best they'll get flak for a regressive giveaway to the rich people who ride the bikes and that distraction is one more they just don't need. I get that you think cabi is the answer to everything, but it simply can't provide a benefit to metro that's worth any time or money investment at all.
    Here we go with the personal attacks again. This is the CAPITAL BIKESHARE sub-forum, which is why I post about Capital Bikeshare on this sub-forum. That's the whole point. If you don't like reading about CaBi, you can always skip this sub-forum.

    Where exactly did I say that CaBi is the answer to everything? On this thread? Nope. On other threads? Nope. Do I like CaBi? Yes. Do I post about it often? Sometimes, yes. Do I think it is the answer to everything, or at least the answer to all transportation issues in the DC region? Nope. But you set that false characterization up and engage in yet another personal attack on someone on the forum. It's not the first time.

    The whole point of this suggestion is that it could be a low-key/low-cost way to bump up non-car commutes a bit. Nothing more, nothing less. Did I say that this idea would magically allow the region to tear up the Beltway, I-395, I-66 and all the other major roads, because more people might start using Metro and CaBi? Please.

    I mentioned that I do not know the specifics of the potential cost. There would be no maintenance, operations or safety personnel who would work on this whatsoever. The programming cost could be more than I expect. That's why I post on the forum, to see if others have valid, insightful comments and suggestions, pro or con. Not automatic dismissive statements and personal attacks based on your personal biases. I know there are some tech-minded people who post on the forum. Many work for gov't agencies or private companies who might be involved in programming of this sort. While they would not be allowed to post about confidential info, they could probably post an educated guess about whether something like this would be a lot more expensive than I'm thinking it is. I would welcome such insight. Starting a thread on the BikeArlington forum doesn't immediately add millions of dollars of costs to Metro or CaBi. It could be a good idea or it could be a bad idea. Nothing you have said makes me look at the idea critically in any way.

    It's a simple thread, about a possible idea. I would like to see what the pros and cons are, based on data or educated guesses based on data and other insights that people may have. Gripes about how I think "CaBi is the answer to everything," well, I can't say I find that useful at all. The only thing I've gotten out of your responses is that you want me to shut up about CaBi. Since you are not the forum dictator, I will not shut up about CaBi. I will continue to post about it when I think it's appropriate. Like it or not, Capital Bikeshare is now a major part of cycling in the DC region. You may despise it and you may try to shut down discussion about it on the forum, but the forum covers bike commuting, bike infrastructure and bike planning, among other bike-related topics. Capital Bikeshare is a significant part of all of those topics and categories.

    [I suspect you will complain about me posting a "wall of text" next. If you don't want to read the post, don't. Put me on ignore if you like. I won't become despondent over it. No one forced you to read the Capital Bikeshare sub-forum and no one has forced you to read this thread or any other thread that may have Capital Bikeshare content. Good lord.]
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 03-27-2016 at 06:46 AM.

  8. #8
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    hozn is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    I think most of us have learned that arguing with with mstone is rather pointless. He has lots of good points but they come with a heavy dose of hyperbole, over-simplification, and general cynicism. It makes for good theater, though. :-)

    So I would just save the "walls of text" responses for occasions that matter.

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    Wall of text ignored, as desired. You're not posting about cabi, you're posting about metro. You're ignoring the optics involved on the metro side, because of your focus on cabi. I don't think you actually responded to what I wrote, but I honestly didn't parse every word in the wall. Metro can't do something like this without studies and administrative overhead which isn't free. Their smartrip system has been overtaxed and having problems for years, and there's no such thing as a "simple change". And, again, the optics of metro spending time and attention on that instead of the major problems in the system would lead to headaches that metro really doesn't need and almost certainly won't affect ridership in a measurable way. If you want to promote cabi+metro, find a way to promote it from the cabi side without burdening metro with it. AFHokie posted about changing cabi to use smartrip cards. I'm skeptical that would be revenue-positive, but at least that's something that comes out of cabi's funding rather than metro's.

    Think of it as a sinking ship. You want to put on a better deck chair. It doesn't matter if it's the shiniest deck chair ever, it doesn't matter if you say that the captain doesn't need to polish it, just the steward. The people on the ship are going to be really annoyed if anyone is focused on the deck chairs while the ship is sinking. Once the ship is fixed, sure, talk about how the chairs could be better.
    Last edited by mstone; 03-27-2016 at 11:25 AM.

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    Based on your first seven sentances/phrases, I think this is a great idea. I have no idea what else you state as your post is insanely too long. When advocating, always keep to three related points and no more than six sentances/phrases.

    One problem, metro and bike share see each other as the enemy.

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