Should Bike Share Be Financially Self-Sufficient?

As bike share systems spread across the country, Danielle Kurtzleben looks at their profitability, or lack thereof, and asks whether cash-strapped cities or the federal government will want to sink money into systems that struggle to break even.
April 21, 2012, 9am PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Kurtzleben looks at the benefits of bike share systems, both economic and non-economic, and asks whether their common reliance on public financial assistance (much like other forms of public transit) is sustainable.

"Bike sharing is costly because it requires more work than simply letting people ride and changing the occasional flat tire. One of the biggest operating costs involves trucking the bikes from full docking stations to empty ones...Optimizing this operations aspect may be key to improving profitability. Josh Moskowitz, project manager at the D.C. Department of Transportation, says a majority of Capital Bikeshare's operations and maintenance costs go toward these rebalancing operations."

Systems rolling out in New York and Los Angeles over the next two years will be funded entirely from private sources, testing whether a successful bike share financial model can be achieved.

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Published on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 in U.S. News & World Report
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