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Council to Discuss Extending Capital Bike Share to College Park

Capital Bike share

Capital Bike share

At tonight’s worksession, the City Council will discuss extending the Capital Bike Share Program to College Park.

In an effort to ease traffic congestion, decrease pollution, and improve public health, the City of College Park and the University of Maryland began negotiations in 2012 to implement an expansion of the Capital Bikeshare network.

As the largest in the nation, the network currently offers over 1800 bicycles and 200 stations in the District of Columbia, Alexandria, and Arlington, Virginia with expansion systems planned for Montgomery County. The system has enjoyed much success and growth by making the user experience convenient and flexible.

As a regional membership system, Bikeshare allows users to sign up on-line or at any of the stations in the region using a credit card. Daily, monthly, or yearly memberships can be set up on-line or at each station kiosk using a personal credit card. Bicycles can then be used and returned to any bikeshare station within the system. One-to-three day memberships are available for $7 to $13 respectively.

Monthly and annual options are available for $25 and $75 respectively. Longer term members are delivered a key which can then access bicycles 24 hours a day. While the first 30 minutes of use is always free, usage fees are charged in 30 minute increments and differ by membership type.

For the participating localities, memberships have, in some areas, generated a significant revenue stream. In the District of Columbia, for example, the system’s revenue to operating cost ratio in 2011 was 120% The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Maryland describes how the City and University will coordinate to develop the system. The five year MOU outlines specific details for the initial joint system which will provide a total of 10 stations on and off campus. While the State grant was for 8 stations ( 4 supported by the City, 4 by the University of Maryland) the City has added 2 more stations using funds from developers and the County.

Bike share stations

Proposed bike share stations

The stations and bicycles will be purchased and owned by the City and University. Alta will manage the entire system, including maintenance, bicycle repair and replacement, and daily “rebalancing” wherein bicycles are transferred from fully occupied stations to stations that need more bicycles. Station sites were determined through on-site consultation with Alta and are shown on the map above. The off-campus locations funded by the City are located at the 7400 Block of Baltimore Avenue, College Park Metro, The Varsity Apartments, the Quality Inn at 7200 Baltimore A venue, Ritchie Coliseum, and the Domain Apartments.

The on-campus locations are South Dining Hall, Stamp Student Union, Regents Drive Parking Deck, and Epply Recreation Center. The MOU calls for the University and City to pay operating costs and share revenues on a pro-rata or per dock basis. The City and University will sign a joint contract with Alta Bicycle Share, Inc.

The contract is still being finalized and is based on the recently completed Montgomery County system contract. The contract outlines the implementation details including how each station will be sited, installed, maintained, and if necessary, relocated. Marketing is largely the responsibility of the City and University with Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. providing assistance if necessary. The regional Bikeshare system is also promoted through capitalbikeshare.com as well as goDCgo.com.

An important component of the contract still being addressed is the creation of a membership category specifically geared towards University of Maryland affiliation. The goal is for students, faculty, and staff associated with the University of Maryland to have their membership fees allocated to the College Park/UMD system. This is an important aspect of the agreement due to the many students and faculty that reside outside of the City and University and would have their membership revenues sent to other jurisdictions. Along with memberships, the City and university will benefit from all proceeds for advertising at the station kiosks and on the bicycles.

Total System Funding for City of College Park is $376,842. This includes $66,000 from Maryland Department of Transportation Grant $187,490, $100,000 from City of College Park and Developer Contributions Prince George’s County Contribution, $23,352 from annual Membership and Advertising Revenue (estimated at 24% of operating costs)

Alta Bicycle Share, Inc. performs regular surveys of system usage and maintains data sets on issues such as memberships, ridership, customer service, and safety. Reports are provided monthly. There are capital and operating costs associated with the system. Capital costs are for the purchase of bikes and docks which together comprise a station. Costs vary by size of station. Operating costs are computed by the number of docks per station and billed at $117.43 per dock per month. The total capital cost for College Park’s 70 dock, 38 bike system is $244,988 paid upon execution of the contract. The total annual operating cost is $98,642, divided into monthly payments to Alta Bicycle Share, Inc.

Additional costs include a one-time “launch” cost of $15,800. Costs associated with the launch include items such as Alta’s labor expenses, site visits and analysis with the City, safety equipment during installation, tools, crane use, and communication. The stations and bicycles themselves are special ordered and are anticipated to take approximately 4 months to arrive. Installation is expected to take an additional 2 months.

Staff is recommending that the City Manager be authorized to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Maryland and to enter into negotiations with Alta Bicycle Share, Incorporated for the contract for a Capital Bikeshare system.

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7 Comments to “Council to Discuss Extending Capital Bike Share to College Park”

  1. By anon, August 7, 2013 @ 10:32 pm

    Fantastic idea. But, why are there no locations being discussed in North College Park? We have a Metro station nearby, dedicated bike lanes and should absolutely have at least one area here to get bikes. There are hundreds of students and potential users in North College Park who could benefit from this. I understand the Metro Station in our neighborhood is technically in Greenbelt, but a bike rack by the REI/MOM Market is a no-brainer.

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, August 7, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

    We just talked about this on the Council. One of the main reasons for having the Bike Share program (as stated in the proposal) is to reduce traffic on our roads and I said on the Council that having a station in north college Park (such as at the REI/MoM parking lot) will work great in reducing traffic on Route 1.

    That said, the bike share program that the Council intends to support is an experimental one year project. It’s just a start. If the project becomes successful, we plan to expand the bike share network to northern part of the City, in particular to north College Park.

  3. By Patrick Wojahn, August 8, 2013 @ 6:21 pm

    Anon – We certainly hope to expand the program to north College Park in the future. Experience with the program shows, though, that it is most successful when the stations are located in dense areas. If there is just one station within a 1/4-mile radius or so, people are much less likely to use it. We’re hoping to bring the program up the Trolley Trail to Duvall Field and Hollywood, and Greenbelt is currently working on bringing stations around their City, including at the Greenbelt Metro. It will, of course, be ideal for us to have stations at Greenbelt Metro and at the REI/MOM’s shopping center so people can get back and forth. The more successful the program is in downtown College Park, the more likely we will be able to bring it to the rest of the City. Thanks for your question!

  4. By Onward, August 8, 2013 @ 8:27 pm

    This looks like a promising start — nice work. One suggestion: could we consider moving one of these stations out to a location by M-Square ? We have hundreds of office workers stranded out there all day, who must get into their cars to pick up lunch at one of our College Park restaurants. Placing a bikeshare station out there would give them another option and take cars off the roads during lunch hour. It would also allow easy trips between UMD, M-Square and the College Park Metro.

  5. By Fazlul Kabir, August 9, 2013 @ 6:01 am

    Onward, Thanks for your suggestion. I will pass that to our Planning department. Thanks again.

  6. By BK, August 19, 2013 @ 1:23 am

    Really happy to see this moving forward; great work. Was the business school considered as a station location? As a student at the business school I’d like to make a suggestion regarding south campus locations, as it seems like the Domain or South Dining Hall stations could be shifted slightly to increase usability (I sent the following to planners last year when the system was initially proposed).
    1) Given the number of professional programs at the business school (MBAs, etc.), the number of metro/train commuters is relatively high.
    2) The roads from the metro to the business school area are ideal for biking; which means people will actually use the system even on hot summer days. Calvert Rd and Guilford Dr. are both almost completely flat and very light on traffic.
    3) There is a large concentration of students living in the South Campus Commons facilities just across the parking lot that could also use the station.
    Finally, the business school is keen on promoting their proximity and ease of access to DC, as well as sustainability efforts, so I’m guessing they might be interested in promoting a station at their building as well.

  7. By Jonathan Brown, August 19, 2013 @ 1:51 pm

    Thanks to everyone for their feedback on the City’s proposed Bikeshare program. The proposed stations were the most feasible at this time, and are viewed as the start of what will hopefully become a larger, more contiguous system within Prince George’s County. Please continue to send your suggestions as they are valuable to us.

    Thank you.