At tomorrow’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission Administration Committee meeting meeting, the MTC is proposing to expand the bikeshare program in San Francisco, San Jose, and the East Bay, but to de-fund the under-utilized stations in Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Mountain View. Â Cities can pick up the cost of maintaining the kiosks, or to have them removed. Â Â The decision to de-fund he Peninsula stations is being made despite the fact that Caltrain has a painful capacity crunch, and routinely bumpsÂ passengers who use a bicycle for their first/last mile – and survey data shows that nearly 40% of people who bring bikes onboard Caltrain say they could use a bikeshare bicycle instead.
Key missing information from the survey results disclosed by Caltrain is which stations have large numbers of customers who say they could use bikeshare as a substitute to bikes on board. Â If there are Peninsula stations, it would make sense for Caltrain to work with those cities, and major employers in those cities, to assess the deployment of bikeshare for last-mile connection.
Part of the problem is that the model used to planÂ Bay Area Bikeshare is an urban model, with stations clustered close together in a densely populated area. Â The use of bikeshare as a last-mile connector, playing a similar role as a shuttle, is not being considered. Â It is true that a last-mile connector would be more expensive than an urban system that gets used all day; the key question is not whether the cost compares with an urban system, but whether the this last-mile solution is cost-effective compared to a shuttle, which costs $5 or more dollars per fully subsidized ride.
One piece of good news for Caltrain bicycle users in the proposed new bike share agreement, is that pricing will be made available for equipment and services on a per-dock basis. This means that cities and employers wanting to partner on last mile bike share, the way they currently partner on last mile shuttles, will have a package to purchase and a price tag. When Bay Area Bikeshare was launched, employers and transportation demand management programs that wanted to subsidize a bike share kiosk for their employees did not have a package to purchase.
Hopefully Caltrain and partners can assess the opportunity for last-mile bike share and provide funding if it makes sense.