Grading Bikeshares, Ctd

48 hours of Citi Bike rides visualized:

Jason Koebler compares NYC’s bikeshare to DC’s:

[P]opularity-wise, Citi Bike has been anything but a failure. In its first year, DC signed up 18,000 annual members, or about 3 percent of its population, and DC is a city with an oft-broken Metro system that leaves huge swaths of the city unserviced. Capital Bikeshare is thriving and Citi Bike is, by the sound of some news articles, on the brink of collapse, despite the fact that it’s been about doubly as popular as Capital Bikeshare was in its first year. What gives?

Government money, that’s what. Capital Bikeshare has received at least $16 million in government subsidies, Citi Bike has got nothin’.

City governments all around the country are pumping money into bikesharing, mainly because people seem to love them, and it’s way cheaper than building a subway. In Minneapolis, for instance, they don’t ever plan on breaking even. That, apparently, is not an option in New York. Former mayor Mike Bloomberg promised no public funds would be spent on Citi Bike, a promise that DeBlasio so far is sticking to. That’s a promise the city isn’t going to be able to keep.

Emily Badger points out that expansion will only make the financials worse:

In Washington, Capital Bikeshare is eyeing expansion into new neighborhoods in the region that are less densely populated and farther removed from commercial hubs. New York theoretically intends to do the same, expanding into boroughs well beyond Manhattan. But as Arlington has expanded, already its cost-recovery ratio has gotten worse, not better.

“We knew that this would happen,” says Paul DeMaio, Capital Bikeshare’s program manager in Arlington. Bikeshare systems typically launch in the most profitable parts of town, where would-be riders are common and tightly clustered together. By definition, expansion means serving the people who are harder to get, who live beyond the tourist centers. “But, again, we’re transit,” DeMaio says, “so you can’t serve only part of the population. With transit, you need to serve everyone.”

Previous Dish on the topic here.