Yes, bike-sharing can be free!
22 November, 2017
As bike-sharing is getting more mature, the question of equity is becoming central for authorities in order to allow low-income citizens to benefit from the local bike-sharing schemes. And YES it can be totally free: Pittsburgh’s Port Authority (transportation authority) and Healthy Ride (bike-share operator) announced unlimited free 15 minutes rides to anyone with a ConnectCard transit card!
The only technological prerequisite is for transit and bike-share to work with the same identification technology (RFID in Pittsburgh). There, provider Nextbike had to modify its stations in order to allow users to pair their cards with their bike-share accounts. The signup process has also been simplified to attract users, asking only for a phone number and PIN code (allowing people without credit card or smartphone to use the system).
This program aims to boost the usage of the bike-share system, and to extend the pool of users to low-income people. This ambitious program, together with the expansion of the system in 2018, will provide interesting information about pricing as a brake to bike-share usage.