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Building a better bike share system

A better bike share is more than putting bikes on the street.

We want our system to remove the barriers to low-income residents and communities of color. We recognize that many of our residents historically have been underrepresented and underserved. They do not have access to a robust network of transportation options. We know we have to listen, elevate, and respond as we continue to build a better bike share for Boston.

Bikes reliably available nearby

Bike share is like all forms of public transportation. It’s most useful when it is dependable, predictable, and convenient.

Bike share is available in every neighborhood of Boston. Guided by our Go Boston 2030 goals, we are working to ensure every household is within a 10 minute walk of a station. We are adding service in several neighborhoods over the next year. We also will add more bike share capacity in job centers and dense residential areas.

Bike share is a natural complement to the MBTA's public transit system. We work with the T to make sure bike share stations are near transit stations. You can easily hop off the train and onto a bike for the next part of your trip.

We are making our system more reliable too. More stations will help us better meet the demand for bike share. Residents and workers should encounter fewer stations that don’t have bikes or docks. We’re working behind the scenes to improve the way our teams distribute bikes during the day.

Lower or end financial barriers

Just like bus and rail transit, our bike share system should be affordable for our residents.

Bike share is public transportation. It is meant for regular use by our residents and workers. So, our pricing is structured with them in mind.

For just $129 per year, people can ride our bikes any time and as many times as they want. There are no additional fees for trips on classic bikes that are 45 minutes or under. That price works out to about $1 per trip for folks who use our bikes for two trips per week! For the occasional rider, it's just $2.95 for a 30-minute trip.

For ebikes, Bluebikes members are charged an additional $.10/minute. Ebikes are $0.07 per minute for low-income residents enrolled in Bluebikes’ Income-Eligible Program. Ebikes are available at $0.25 per minute for non-member riders who purchase a Single Trip or Adventure Pass.

Boston residents who have not had an annual membership in the last three years are eligible for the Boston Bikes Pass for $60 per year  (with an additional $.10/minute for trips on ebikes)

For some residents, a $129 one-time payment is out of reach. We offer an option to purchase an annual membership in installments of $13 per month. For those who don’t want to commit for the year, a 30-day pass is $29. Each of these options offers 45-minute trips on classic bikes without additional fees. Discounted memberships are available to residents who participate in public assistance programs or who have eligible incomes. In addition, the Boston Bikes Pass is available to Boston residents who are income-eligible. For income-eligible members, ebikes are $.07/minute. 

  • Boston residents: $5 for the year
  • Residents of other municipalities: $50 for the year, or $5 for 30 days of riding (without an annual commitment).

Our mobile app is a great way to access our bikes, but it’s not required. People can use the key fob to unlock a classic bike or an ebike. They can also use their credit or debit card to unlock a classic bike from the kiosk (the credit card works like a key to identify the member). For now, ebikes are not available to unlock using a credit or debit card at the station kiosk. Riders can also buy a single-trip or a 24-hour pass at any station. Whether or not you have a smartphone or unlimited data plan, you can still get a bike.

Offer good jobs at good wages

Our bike share system is a job-creator that fosters economic inclusion and equity.

Motivate, the contractor that operates our bike share system, is required to be an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. We also encourage them to cultivate a diverse and inclusive workplace that reflects our communities. This means that Motivate should recruit and hire:

  • Boston residents
  • women, people of color, and veterans
  • immigrants and refugees
  • people who identify as LGBTQ
  • individuals with disabilities, and
  • low-income people.

We also require that they submit annual reports on workplace diversity and activities related to that goal.

Motivate works with nonprofits like Christmas in the City, CareerLink (a service of Goodwill), and Bikes Not Bombs. They take part in job fairs to find local candidates for open positions. The operations staff are organized by Transit Workers Union Local 100. Our bicycle mechanics, station technicians, dispatch team, and re-balancers work under a contract that provides good wages and benefits. Half of the local management team are also women.

Communications and outreach

We strive to elevate our residents and their languages when we talk about our bike share.

We are deliberate in the choices we make. The language, images, and people we use to portray bike share can dramatically affect perceptions. Whatever your background, your body type, or your gender identity, we want you to feel that “these bikes are for you.”

Over the years, we have built strong relationships with community groups across the City. They provide authentic voices for bike share in our neighborhoods. We encourage community leaders to share how bike share has added to their own transportation options. We also provide leadership development opportunities for those who want to build their skills. Community members have:

  • led neighborhood rides on bike share
  • staffed outreach tables at farmers markets and health fairs, and
  • been featured as models in bike share posters in their neighborhoods.

We strive to break down language barriers to our system. We create materials in:

  • Spanish
  • Chinese
  • Haitian Creole
  • Portuguese, and
  • Vietnamese.

We are proud that our mobile app and kiosk interface function in both English and Spanish. We require that our call center can help people who speak many different languages. They can also take calls from people using MassRelay, or other text-based communications.

Guarantee sustainability

Our bike share system is sticking around for the long term.

Thousands of people now rely on bike share to get around our communities. This includes a daily commutes and occasional trips. Our system needs to be available and affordable for years into the future.

In late 2015, we began a serious and in-depth effort to prepare our system for what’s next. We did a lot of research, including:

  • looking at emerging technology
  • holding countless conversations with other cities, and
  • digging deep into our system's data.

We ran our financials to understand what we needed to invest in new equipment, in replacing old equipment, and in daily operations. We undertook a two-year procurement process to solicit feedback and proposals from bike share companies. This included technology developers, equipment manufacturers, and service providers. Read more about our process.

Today's Bluebikes is the result of that effort. We're proud that its operations are guaranteed to be funded, and not solely by user revenues. We're excited to expand its service area and add more needed bikes and stations, helping us toward our Go Boston 2030 goals.

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