Bay Area Bike Share Renamed for New Sponsor: An Auto Company

The new, Detroit-based sponsor will help pay for a ten-fold expansion of the Bay Area's regional bike share program coming this spring and a new Palo Alto program. Low income residents will be offered discounted rates to join Bay Area Bike Share.

October 21, 2016, 2:00 PM PDT

By Irvin Dawid

Prepare yourself!  Come this spring, Bay Area Bike Share will be renamed Ford GoBike.

Ford is partnering with Motivate to expand bike share in the Bay Area. The program will be called Ford GoBike.

Credit: Motivate

The expansion from 700 to 7000 bikes of Bay Area Bike Share (BABS) across San Francisco, the East Bay, and San Jose was approved by the Bay Area's metropolitan planning organization, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), in May of last year.

It "was made possible by a new public-private partnership with Motivate [previously known as Alta Bicycle Share], which announced in September that the Ford Motor Company has signed on to support the program which will be renamed Ford GoBike," write Dani Simons of Bay Area Bike Share and Brenda Kahn of MTC.

In addition to the new partnership with Ford, the MTC and Motivate announced a new outreach to low income residents to join BABS by offering a new annual membership of just $5 (compared to $88) which would have no termination date. In addition, cash transactions would be enabled to allow use for those who lack credit cards when the expansion program begins in Spring 2017. An extensive outreach will be made to residents in San Francisco, San Jose and the East Bay cities of Oakland, Emeryville and Berkeley who qualify for 'utility lifeline rates' to join the program.

The outreach fund, $140,000 of which is being provided by Motivate, will support community based organizations in educating neighborhoods new to bike sharing about the planning for and use of the bike share system in advance of and during expansion in spring 2017.

The outreach programs will be spearheaded by TransForm, a nonprofit that promotes walkable communities with excellent transportation choices to connect people of all incomes to opportunity and help solve the climate crisis.

It was reported last month that Ford is paying $50 million to sponsor the regional bike share program.

When the expansion is completed, estimated to by the end of 2018, it "will be the nation’s second largest bike share program," according to Motivate. 

“This unique partnership with Ford shows that bike share is no longer ‘alternative’ transportation, it is central to creating smart, on-demand mobility that represents our values for equity and sustainability," said Jay H. Walder, CEO of Motivate, operator of Bay Area Bike Share.

Walder was previously the chairman of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority which he left in 2011 to head the "MTR Corporation, which operates a commuter-rail service in Hong Kong as well as intercity rail services between Hong Kong and Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong."

Jim Hackett, chairman of Ford Smart Mobility LLC, added, “We are pleased to be collaborating with Motivate in San Francisco and the Bay area to add more transportation options for residents and visitors with the new Ford GoBike bike sharing.” 

GoBike fits in nicely with Ford's growing portfolio of mobility options, which include:

  • GoPark, which builds a predictive parking system in London capable of directing drivers to streets where they are most likely to find a space; 
  • GoDrive, a car sharing program in London that provides vehicles with guaranteed parking at busy locations, such as London City Airport; 
  • Dynamic Shuttle, a program at Ford’s Dearborn, Michigan, campus that allows employees and visitors to summon point-to-point rides on-demand.

In addition to partnering with Motivate in the Bay Area, Ford Motor Company announced that it will acquire Chariot commuter van service in San Francisco.

Hero Image

Credit: Ford Motor Company

Ford Smart Mobility is based in Palo Alto, as is Tesla Motors, for now, at least, providing a nice transition to the second part of this post.

In a separate article by Palo Alto Daily News reporter Jacqueline Lee, Palo Alto announced that it "plans to roll out a new Ford Motor Co.-backed regional bike share program next year to increase ridership and expand 'alternatives to driving solo'."

The $1.1 million endeavor means the city's fleet of bicycles will grow from 37 to 350 by June and possibly to more than 700 in 2018.

Joshuah Mello, the city's chief transportation official, said the main draw of the new smart-bike system, operated by Motivate and sponsored by Ford, is that it will be part of a network growing in Bay Area cities from San Jose to San Francisco, "making it one of the largest systems in the entire world."

While Motivate membership would appear to allow use for both the regional and Palo Alto programs, which makes sense for those commuting on Caltrain from Palo Alto to San Francisco and vice-versa, the bikes themselves would be different, reports Andrew Boone for Streetsblog.

On Tuesday [Oct. 4] evening, the Palo Alto City Council directed staff to continue contract negotiations for replacing the city’s existing 35 bike-share bikes with 350 new SoBi [Social Bikes] “smart bikes.”

Unlike today’s Bay Area Bike Share bikes, SoBi bikes are equipped with an on-board lock so they aren’t dependent on fixed docking stations to operate. Customers can find the bikes using a GPS-based phone application, and can finish a rental by locking the bike to any city bike rack.

The city is currently part of Bay Area Bike Share, along with two other Peninsula cities, Mtn. View and Redwood City, all of which have had very low participation rates, which partly explains why they will not be included in the aforementioned BABS expansion.

Palo Alto will be the second Peninsula city to use Social Bikes after the San Mateo program which began in May.

Previously posted on Planetizen:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016 in Metropolitan Transportation Commission

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