Comment 119824

By mdrejhon (registered) - website | Posted August 23, 2016 at 14:02:36

SoBi has succeeded spectacularly beyond expectations by a wonderful coincidence of many factors.

We also have among one of the world's most inexpensive bikeshare systems from a Pay-Per-Use perspective. Just $3 one-time fee lets you become a member and you can zoom from Gage Park to downtown for less than one dollar ($4/hr is pro-rated by the minute). That's cheaper than the HSR bus! Not to mention, there's more SoBi station density downtown Hamilton than HSR bus stations.

Some additional advantages:

  • Bike rebalance is mostly crowdsourced. Users can return off-station bikes to stations for a bounty/credit. Despite having only one dedicated rebalancing vehicle, our system is more well-rebalanced than Bike Share Toronto's.

  • Full stations aren't an urgent rebalancing emergency, so fewer rebalancing rolls are needed, especially during low usage times (low revenue times).

  • Hamilton's specific stations are designed to accomodate a 2x overflow factor (A 10-rack station accomodates 20 SoBis, before bikes need to park off-station)

  • You can signup by phone and take a bike away on the spot. The system is essentially kioskless. There are some symbollic kiosks for tourists, though a couple aren't working at the moment.

  • My favourite feature. You can check out more than 1 bike at a time with your same SoBi code! (Up to 3 total) This is great for out-of-town guests.

  • The SoBi system is self-sustaining at lower usage levels per bike (about 2 rides per day per bike in fleet) and only requires minor grant touch-ups. It appears it won't be very long before the system is fully self sustaining without need for grants.

  • By being able to self-sustain itself at usage levels of only 2 rides per day per bike, there is far less pressure to rebalance to capture more rides than peak/commute directions per day (e.g. McMaster University tends to fill up with bikes, then empties later as students leave the campus). For many commute pairs, they don't even need to bother rebalancing the bikes at all to milk the bikeshare revenue.

  • In a pinch, SoBi systems can function for several days without a single rebalancing roll -- especially during the winter.

  • For a while, bike rebalancing was done by using only 1 carsharing vehicle, until they got a dedicated vehicle. (In comparision, Bike Share Toronto has a fleet of bike rebalancing vehicles now). Bike rebalancing costs per subscriber ride is extremely low, compared to PBSC / BIXI systems...

  • In downtown Hamilton, you have more SoBi station density than bus stops. So in many cases on a beautiful sunny day, it's more convenient to grab a SoBi for a one-way trip than catch the bus, given how limited the bus service can be sometimes.

The costs are very low to keep operating the existing SoBi system, with the operating costs more easily able to throttle backwards/forwards depending on level of sponsorship/grants. It's easier to throttle-back/cut-back on operating costs with the SoBi-type system (4th generation) than the other BIXI/PBSC type systems (3rd generation).

Given other SoBi systems are either slightly or much more expensive than Hamilton's -- we have the most inexpensive SoBi system in North America -- Eventually, a small fee raise (e.g. $5/hr or $6/hr) may need to occur but hopefully not too soon. Hopefully Hamilton can keep pro-rating (BIKETOWN is minimum $2.50 per ride on Pay-Per-Use, while SoBi Hamilton has no minimum cost. You can ride a short hop between two bikeshare stations for mere pennies on Pay-Per-Use! Some people ride Pay-Per-Use unexpectedly often enough (e.g. say 100 rides in a year, totalling over $100) that they're now upgrading to annual memberships. Still cheaper than 100 bus rides...

The ridership growth is now ensuring the continued existence of bikeshare in Hamilton, even if the grants stop later (e.g. political reasons). So now being over 10,000 active members, we're pretty safe now.

Comment edited by mdrejhon on 2016-08-23 14:51:03

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