The Secrets to Hubway’s Bikeshare Success

Bikeshare programs have met varied degrees of success in North America. Boston’s Hubway, the result of a public-private partnership, is turning a profit entering its fourth year. What's its secret?

1 minute read

April 8, 2014, 2:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Martine Powers reports for the Boston Globe on the success of Hubway, the city of Boston’s bikeshare system. After shutting down for the winter, “Hubway opened for its fourth season with a rosy financial prognosis, a fresh contract between the City of Boston and bike-share operators, an expectation that the system will continue turning a profit, and plans for 10 new stations.”

Powers contrasts the experience of bikeshare programs in Montreal and New York City, both of which have encountered financial trouble in 2014.

The success of bikeshares programs like Boston’s might lie in its modest and incremental goals. To make this point, Powers quotes Mia Birk, Hubway Bike Share vice president: “Bike share systems in Boston, Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Washington, D.C., all of which started relatively small and relied on public sector funds, were able to launch with success, iron out kinks, stabilize, and expand quickly.”

A few more details on the funding and operating structure of Hubway: “Previously Boston divided the costs of operating the system 50-50 with Alta Bicycle Share, the contractor that operates and maintains the system’s bikes, stations, software, and memberships. Boston uses public grant money, along with private sponsorships, to pay the city’s share without dipping into municipal coffers — and up until now, Alta and Boston have split the profits in half.” 

Monday, April 7, 2014 in Boston Globe

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