In an eagerly anticipated decision that brings bikesharing to the City of Los Angeles and others county-wide, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board today voted to award a $11 million contract to Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc., jumpstarting the first pilot bikesharing program in Downtown L.A. next year, with expansions to other municipalities to follow.
Metro will launch the bike share system in spring 2016 with nearly 1,100 bikes at 65 stations throughout Downtown L.A.
“We are building new ways for Angelenos to get around,” said Mayor Garcetti. “Riding a bike is another option people can use to commute to work or explore the region. Today marks the first step in Metro’s plan to bring bikeshare to cities across the county.”
The launch will follow an extensive public outreach process that will give local residents, business owners and other stakeholders the opportunity participate in the planning of the county’s newest form of transportation. As the community input process advances, bicycles will be available for short-term hire at a wealth of downtown locations such as Union Station, L.A. Convention Center, Staples Center, Grand Park/Music Center, 7th Street/Metro Center , Grand Central Market, Pershing Square, the Arts District, the future Figueroa Cycle Track corridor, University of Southern California area and numerous attractions.
Following the launch in Downtown L.A., the system will expand to Pasadena in 2017 as Metro plans to bring the program to eight other communities for a total of 4,000 bicycles in ten communities in L.A. County.
Bikesharing, designed for low-cost, point-to-point short trips using a for-rent fleet of bicycles strategically located at docking stations in close proximity to one another and to transit, is a key transportation and first-mile-last-mile strategy that has already proved popular and successful in other major U.S. cities and around the globe, including New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Montreal, London and Paris. The new L.A. system will fill gaps in the transit network with durable bikes at self-service stations located every few blocks in Downtown. Residents and visitors can pick up a bike at any station, ride to their destination, and drop off the bike at any open dock. The system will allow unlimited, short-term access to bikes 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Smartphone apps will give users real-time information about bike and dock availability. The system’s fares will be considered by the Metro Board at a future meeting. Metro’s Regional Bikeshare Implementation Plan, also approved by the Board, shares capital, operations and maintenance costs with cities, ensuring the program’s financial viability moving forward.
Metro conducted a rigorous, impartial and competitive procurement process to ensure that only the most experienced and capable vendor was selected to implement Metro’s Countywide Bikeshare Program. Having just completed an on-time launch in Philadelphia, the newest of 34 systems in 42 cities with 7,000 bicycles operated througout North and South America, Bicycle Transit Systems, Inc. (BTS) and its partner BCycle, were determined to have the most industry experience and expertise, proven equipment and technology, and the greatest capability for immediate, on-time delivery of a large-scale, multi-jurisdictional bikeshare system backed by their industry-best customer service. The BTS/BCycle team also includes RideScout, BikeHub and Toole Design.
BTS/BCycle team will be able to provide the required number of bicycles and bicycle docking stations for the agency’s Downtown L.A. pilot program and program expansion. The firm already has one local distribution center in Ontario and a subsidary headquartered in San Diego County, and the L.A. system will create new jobs at these facilities, and more across LA county.
Metro Board members who authored earlier motions in support of Metro bikesharing include directors Eric Garcetti, Mike Bonin, Don Knabe, and former directors Zev Yaroslavsky and Pam O’Connor.
“I am tremendously excited that we are moving forward with bikeshare in L.A. and that we are focusing on developing a system that will connect our neighborhoods through interoperable systems,” said Metro Board Member Mike Bonin. “It defies logic that snowy cities around the country have had bikeshare for years, but a city like Los Angeles, with our wonderful weather and communities begging to be biked, still hasn’t gotten this done yet.”
“Bikeshare can be a key element of the first-last mile and balanced transportation solution, expanding the reach of transit and providing our transit users with another mobility option.” said Phillip A. Washington, Metro CEO. “As a proven, experienced leader in the bikeshare industry, we are confident that the BTS/Bcycle team will deliver a successful countywide bikeshare system.”
“The wheels are in motion on the region’s newest form of public transportation, and momentum continues to build for cycling on the streets of L.A. County,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, the former Commissioner of the New York City Department of Transportation and a principal at Bloomberg Associates, where she advised on Metro’s bikeshare contract. “Nothing inspires a city quite like a new bikeshare system, and with by making a safe, affordable, active commute into a reality for thousands more Angelenos, this is a huge step in L.A.’s evolution from car culture to cycling capital.”
Metro’s Bikeshare Implementation Plan establishes a business plan needed to bring bikesharing to more cities within L.A. County. Under the plan, Metro will pay 50 percent of capital costs and 35 percent of net operations and maintenance costs. The agency will manage a master operations contract with its selected bikeshare vendor to provide operations and maintenance for the entire regional system while BTS/BCycle is already working on integrating transit fare cards similar to Metro’s TAP card, bringing a convenient, unified payment system to the county’s rail, bus and bikeshare systems. Building on this board-approved funding mechanism, Metro is also seeking potential system sponsors interested in high-visibility advertising on the stations, bikes and related materials.
“Metro’s commitment to treating bikeshare as an extension of the transit system lays the foundation for Los Angeles to have one of the most equitable bikeshare systems in the country, one that is truly accessible and affordable to the communities that will benefit most. It is critically important that Angelenos’ first experience with bikeshare is seamlessly integrated throughout Los Angeles County and we encourage all agencies to collaboratively seek compatibility across multiple systems,” said Tamika Butler, Executive Director, Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition. “We commend Metro for taking a leadership role and look forward to the successful deployment of a regional system.”
Metro, the City of L.A., and local partners will host demonstration events, open houses and workshops throughout Downtown and future service areas in the coming year. Angelenos are encouraged to attend, test out bikeshare bikes and provide feedback on how the system will best work for them.