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Thread: Idea: Bikeshare/Metro discounted transfers

  1. #11
    Steve O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raymo853 View Post
    One problem, metro and bike share see each other as the enemy.
    Actually, I think it's asymmetrical. I don't think CaBi sees Metro as the enemy, particularly since they are a useful tool for the "last mile" problem. OTOH, Metro has publicly stated that part of their ridership decline can be attributed to more bicycling, including Capital Bikeshare.

    The general concept of integrating forms of transit is, in and of itself, a good idea. It's already done a lot--particularly between buses and rail. So I think PotomacCyclist raising this idea can make for a worthwhile discussion. Since CaBi can be a good "last mile" solution for other forms of transit, linking them somehow makes good sense.

    One simpler, starter idea in this regard might be cross marketing of some kind. For instance, Metro riders could get coupons for a free ride on CaBi. To reduce the free-riders problem, they could be limited to same day and certain CaBi stations. That sort of thing. If the goal is to help people better understand the connectedness the systems can create, with the intent of increasing use of both systems, then unleash some marketing geniuses to come up with promos and other tools to work on that. Shared fare systems is just one idea of many that could be considered.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    OTOH, Metro has publicly stated that part of their ridership decline can be attributed to more bicycling, including Capital Bikeshare.
    Well, for a long time metro has been looking for anything to blame other than their reliability and other internal problems. (For years they wouldn't acknowledge that the weekend track work was a factor for people not wanting to metro on the weekend!) If you look at the difference between peak and current ridership, and the number of people riding bikes, it's clear that the majority of people abandoning metro didn't hop on a bike. I think telework is a bigger existential threat to metro than bikes, since they're geared so heavily toward supporting traditional 9-5 commuters.

    One simpler, starter idea in this regard might be cross marketing of some kind. For instance, Metro riders could get coupons for a free ride on CaBi.
    Yup, that's something that wouldn't require anything at all from metro, cabi could just get a couple of people handing out passes at metro stations and buy some ads inside. I thought they'd already done some of that, but I may be thinking of some other campaign. A bigger challenge on the cabi side is how non-scalable their interface for daily users is--they're not going to impress a lot of people with a line at the kiosk. I wonder if they could do some kind of facilitated transaction with mobile terminals, where someone gets handed a one day key right there? (I assume they'd still want a credit card associated with the key to discourage bike trashing?)

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    CaBi's 2014 member survey: "Ninety-one percent of respondents said they would be somewhat interested (31%) or very inter-
    ested (60%) in a Capital Bikeshare fob or SmarTrip card that they could use to access both Capital Bikeshare and public transit service."

    But Metrorail serves 25x as many people as CaBi. If 90% want a single card, it seems likely that the existing CaBi members are WMATA users. How much can CaBi grow without more equipment? How much of an increase would it be for WMATA if CaBi maxed out? How many of those riders would bring additional revenue to WMATA?

    I imagine CaBi has already reached out to WMATA and been rejected.

  4. #14
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    The idea I had is that no new equipment would be needed at all. If this proposal were ever instituted, it would be software-based only. The CaBi account and the SmarTrip account could be linked by the user. It would be optional. If someone is concerned about "the Government" tracking their every move, well, then don't use CaBi or Metro, or at least don't sync the two. Problem avoided.

    For those who want the benefit of interconnection, they could opt in, through either the CaBi acct or on the Metro SmarTrip site. (People can already register their SmarTrip cards online. The benefit is that if you ever lose the card, you can retrieve the entire balance and transfer it to a new card, paying only the small fee for a new card. Some people store hundreds of dollars of value on their SmarTrip card, so losing it could be a big deal if it isn't registered.) If everything were set up, then the user could simply check a box on either account page and possibly verify the selection by receiving an email link and confirming that the user wants to link the two accounts.

    Once that's done, the individual would use their CaBi key as before, and they would use their SmarTrip card as they do currently. The difference is that if the systems detect that the person has checked in a bike within a set distance from a Metro station, and then enters that Metro station within a set time period, then the discounted transfer would apply. They could use similar limits as the rail/bus or bus/rail transfers, with slight modification for bikeshare. Perhaps something like checking into a bike station 1/4 mile from a Metro station, then entering the Metro station within 30 minutes of docking the bike. (The exact numbers could be hashed out by others.) This isn't new and it's not revolutionary. These transfers have been part of the Metro system for years, maybe even decades. That's why I don't think it would be that novel to program the CaBi/Metro transfers, because this sort of thing has already been done before. It's not new, except for the proposed addition of Capital Bikeshare.

    I don't know if Metro would have money to spend on studying the effect of this transfer system. But as I mentioned before, many private individuals have already been studying cycling and bikeshare data for years in the DC/Arlington area. This is not a new task either. It is already being done by many intelligent and motivated individuals. It's really not that hard.

    Will those studies be comprehensive and authoritative? Probably not, but most studies are not authoritative and 100% conclusive. They just try to narrow down the range of possibilities and probabilities. As people are pointing out, the user base of CaBi is relatively small, compared to that of Metro, so I don't see this as having a massive negative effect on Metro. If it is true that CaBi has already had a negative effect on Metro revenues, well, that had absolutely nothing to do with any discounted transfer program.
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 03-29-2016 at 12:26 AM.

  5. #15
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    I have also been thinking of the new proposals from the new Metro General Manager, to offer more practical and beneficial monthly passes for MetroRail riders. They only offer a slight discount over paying for rail trips individually. The benefit to Metro is that if someone buys a monthly pass, that provides a much more stable revenue stream for WMATA. If there is an outage, such as the one a couple weeks ago, that would not result in a large negative spike in revenue. The monthly passes would also encourage purchasers to take more weekend trips, even with the reduced train frequencies, because once you buy the monthly pass, there is no extra cost to taking multiple additional trips on the weekend (as long as you stay under the per-ride limit of the pass). I don't recall the specifics, but the pass works something like this: You would pay for the cost of about 18 round trips at one of two levels, something like $2.15 or $3.25. (I don't remember the exact numbers, but you get the idea.) Then that pass allows the purchaser to take unlimited trips of $2.15 or less (or $3.25 or less, or whatever the number is).

    Metro is already running the relatively empty trains on the weekends. The track work has led to fewer weekend Metro trips overall. Perhaps more people would use Metro on the weekends if there was no additional per-trip cost. People (at least in DC, Arlington and other areas near Metro stations) would be more likely to go car-lite or car-free. Maybe this would increase total revenue for WMATA. I don't know if it will or not. Neither does WMATA, so that is why they are only running a pilot program for the new monthly passes.

    Why is this relevant here? Because this is partly why I thought of a CaBi/Metro transfer program. If someone can tie in CaBi with Metro, and connect it to a monthly Metro pass, the overall combination could attract more people to Metro than just the monthly passes would. I don't have any solid evidence to back up this assertion, but that's why I posted this here. To see what interested parties would have to say. Even such discussion would not prove anything, so a pilot program would also be a good idea, if this idea were accepted.

    I tend to think that this idea would have a slight benefit for WMATA, especially in combination with the monthly passes. (The increased transit tax benefit will also help to boost Metro revenues, I think.) I do NOT think this idea would be a gamechanger for Metro. Never said it would be. However, I think the cost to institute this would be relatively small, which would make this a worthwhile program. It's not as though I'm talking about constructing a new underground Metro line through downtown DC here. I may not know the exact cost of this idea, but certainly it is not a multi-billion dollar idea, the way that a separated Blue Line through downtown DC would be.

    Compared to most other Metro-related plans and programs, this transfer idea would cost very little. So even if the benefits are only modest, that could easily make it worth pursuing. If someone can explain why it would not, I would be interested to hear the argument... AS LONG AS it has to do with facts, good-faith guesses, and opinions based on experience, studies, observations and thought experiments. Just saying "Metro sucks" or telling me to shut up about CaBi does not add anything to the discussion (and DISCUSSION is exactly the entire POINT of having this forum in the first place!).
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 03-29-2016 at 12:46 AM.

  6. #16
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    As for Metro rejecting the plan, well, both Metro and CaBi are funded/owned by the same groups, namely the local governments. There were problems with CaBi placing bike stations on Metro property, but that could have been due to exaggerated fears about bike stations interfering with bus or pedestrian traffic flows and safety around Metro stations. (I'm not saying those fears were reasonable, just that those attitudes might have led to all the delays and obstacles.) Or some of it was due to protecting Metro turf from the intrusion of the new Capital Bikeshare program.

    There would be no physical transfer or use of Metro property with the discounted transfer program. It's all software. (None of those paper transfer tickets like they used to use. Actually, some of the local bus systems still use paper transfers or tickets. I used one in Prince George's County this past winter.)

    Perhaps there has been reluctance to cooperate with CaBi because of concerns about CaBi eroding Metro revenue. I'll admit that CaBi does appear to have had at least a small negative effect on Metro revenue. But a CaBi/Metro transfer program would not increase the decline of Metro revenue. It could encourage more people to use Metro, and perhaps it could encourage more people to sign up for the new monthly passes. Again, I do not think the CaBi/Metro transfer idea on its own would bring tens of millions of dollars into Metro coffers. But it doesn't have to. Until someone tells me differently, I have to assume that this idea would cost much less than most Metro programs and additions. Nothing would need to be built. No new equipment would need to be designed or purchased whatsoever. No revolutionary leaps in software programming would need to be made, because these electronic transfers have already been built into the existing system. It's already set up to detect the time gaps between leaving a Metro station or bus and entering a bus or Metro station, and then deducting the transfer discount automatically.

    Likewise, the CaBi account system is already set up to detect and record fairly precise information. If you login to the CaBi site, you can see the precise times that you check out or check in a bike. You can see the bike stations used. (The distances for the trips are not accurately, because the system only measures the straight-line distance between stations, not the distance of the actual route taken.)

    It would take some programming to link the CaBi system and the SmarTrip system. I'm not a programmer so I don't know how complicated this would be. But I do know that all the precise info required for this idea is already being recorded and tracked for SmarTrip and CaBi today. The systems wouldn't need to be overhauled.

    I understand that whenever you try to fiddle around with a complicated network or software system, bugs arise. Maybe this idea would introduce too many bugs. But it seems that the software people should be able to work it out, since Metro is already running an electronic automated transfer discount system.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PotomacCyclist View Post
    DISCUSSION is exactly the entire POINT of having this forum in the first place
    You're not interested in discussion. You just posted 3 (!) more walls of text that basically disregarded what anyone else on the thread said, reiterated your original idea at length and without change, and explained your requirements for "legitimate" conversation (which, for anyone else, can't be "I think this so it must be true", it has to be extensively footnoted and preferably something you want to hear). That's not a discussion, it's a pronouncement.

  8. #18
    PotomacCyclist is offline I spend all day thinking about bikes and talking to people on the internet about them.
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    Then don't read. I already invited you to put me on ignore.

    I did look at some of the other posts. Metro has considered moving to a new payment system, but I doubt that will happen in the foreseeable future. (Skip the rest of this post if you don't want to read more than two sentences.)

    Metro has been running a pilot program for the alternate payment system. Those are the silver gates present at many/most stations. The problem is that very few people have signed up for the pilot. Another problem is that even if a lot of people signed up, overhauling the payment/entry system would be very expensive. That would be a major capital project. As others have noted, Metro probably shouldn't be focused on a major capital project at this time. THAT is why I posted about keeping the standard CaBi keys and SmarTrip cards already in use today.

  9. #19
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    Switching CaBi to SmarTrip would also be very expensive, requiring modifications or replacement of every CaBi kiosk. Unless an independent donor funds such a program, I don't see how that would happen. You can claim that I'm making pronouncements, but this is based on the financial realities of CaBi and Metro. If a new kiosk were designed to use SmarTrip cards (or smartphones/chip cards), those could be added when the current kiosks are replaced. But systemwide replacement of stations isn't going to happen for years.

    http://wamu.org/news/16/02/03/metro_...rd_on_how_long

    Even if the $184 million contract with Accenture had been on track, the transfer away from SmarTrip would not have completed until 2021. Now the process has been delayed because of the unsuccessful pilot. Based on the delays with most major projects, Metro and non-Metro, I would guess that even if Metro sticks to their plan, it won't be finished until the mid 2020s at best.

    The article does mention that Chicago's new gate system resulted in glitches. Everyone has seen enough bugs in software overhauls to know that is a possibility. This is why I would be concerned that this could happen, even if a Metro/CaBi transfer program were added solely through software. I already mentioned this before. It's a risk, and if it's too great a risk, it would make this idea unwise.

    But what is the risk? I don't know but I don't think others know either.
    Last edited by PotomacCyclist; 03-29-2016 at 08:57 AM.

  10. #20
    lordofthemark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PotomacCyclist View Post
    Switching CaBi to SmarTrip would also be very expensive, requiring modifications or replacement of every CaBi kiosk. Unless an independent donor funds such a program, I don't see how that would happen. You can claim that I'm making pronouncements, but this is based on the financial realities of CaBi and Metro. If a new kiosk were designed to use SmarTrip cards (or smartphones/chip cards), those could be added when the current kiosks are replaced. But systemwide replacement of stations isn't going to happen for years.
    Hmm. Are there are any new parts of the CaBi system, that are relatively isolated from the rest of the CaBi system, but where CaBi as last mile to metro is very important, and where there are local organizations that might want to support this?

    Why so there are.

    http://greatergreaterwashington.org/...tions-will-go/

    I would suggest FCDOT, TyTran, and Reston Association might have an interest in doing this.

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