By DAVE SOTERO
Los Angeles has officially joined the bike-share revolution. At noon on July 7, hundreds of people who live, work, and play in L.A. converged in Grand Park to launch Metro Bikes, an eagerly anticipated new bike sharing network that will consist of 1,000 shared bicycles at up to 65 stations throughout DTLA.
The $11 million project is the joint product of Metro and the City of Los Angeles, and is the first pilot effort to establish bike sharing throughout Los Angeles County that could potentially bring up to 4,000 bicycles to communities region-wide.
“The much anticipated launch of bike-sharing in Downtown Los Angeles is the latest salvo in Metro’s ongoing transportation revolution,” said John Fasana, Duarte City Council member and Metro board chair. “Our new transportation services are eroding the exclusive domain of the automobile and giving everyone more affordable, active and sustainable alternatives.”
Metro worked closely with the City of Los Angeles to strategically place bike-share stations at major transit hubs and key destinations of most benefit to people living, working and playing in the downtown area. Bike-share stations are located on both sides of Union Station, L.A. City Hall, Grand Park, the L.A. Convention Center, South Park, Chinatown, the Arts District, the Fashion District, Little Tokyo and other prime spots, most of them within a couple blocks of each other.
“Downtown L.A. is a fascinating place to explore on two wheels,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Second Vice Chair Eric Garcetti. “Metro Bike Share gives Angelenos and visitors an easy, affordable way to experience some of our city’s most incredible sights.”
Many bike-share stations are located close to the Metro rail and bus network, giving transit riders direct access to Metro Bikes to easily combine bicycle and transit trips. The system is the first in the United States to be operated by a transit agency and the first to use a single fare card, the TAP card, for both the transit system and bike share system.
Metro and the city selected bike-share locations that created better access to museums, libraries, schools, retail, employment and residential areas.
“Bike Sharing puts downtown at your pedals – from the murals of the Arts District to the Chinatown gates to Skyspace in the Financial District,” said Seleta Reynolds, LADOT general manager. “We want it to help people connect the dots in a fun and healthy way.”
To use the bike-share system, customers can purchase a monthly or annual flex pass at www.metro.net/bikeshare. New customers will receive their TAP card in the mail. Existing TAP card holders have the option of registering their current TAP card in the system and simply adding bike share access to it. Starting Aug. 1, people will be able to walk up to a bike share station and check out a bike by paying with a credit card.
Pass holders will use their Metro bike share-registered TAP card to access any Metro Bike from a dock at a station. Bike share-registered TAP cards identify each user to both Metro bike share and Metro transit lines. As with all TAP cards, transit fares can be loaded onto a bike share-registered TAP card at any Metro ticket vending machine, online at http://taptogo.net or at any of the hundreds of TAP vending locations across the county.
Users can download a special Metro Bike Share App available on iOS and Android that will enable them to buy a pass, check bike and dock availability, and find the nearest station to their location, among other features.
The Metro bike-share fare structure is designed to be flexible and affordable for all users. The agency has created three simple pass options:
A 30-day pass is $20. All trips 30 minutes or less are free and $1.75 per 30 minutes thereafter. This pass option is best if the user expects to take more than five trips per month. People use their registered TAP card to get bikes directly from docks and the pass renews 30 days after initial purchase.
A Flex Pass is $40 per year. All trips 30 minutes or less are $1.75 and $1.75 per 30 minutes thereafter. This option is best if users expect to take two to five trips per month or want the convenience of using their TAP card to get a bike directly from the dock.
A walk-up is $3.50 for 30 minutes. This option will be available starting Aug. 1. All trips 30 minutes or less are $3.50, and $3.50 per 30 minutes thereafter. An introductory 50 percent discount rate will be offered in August-September. This option is best for tourists and visitors to Downtown LA. Users can pay per trip using their credit card at any station kiosk. No TAP card is needed for a walk-up.
Metro has ensured the system is equitable for all users. The agency distributed 40,000 Annual Flex Pass coupons for Metro Rider Relief participants to try the system at a low cost. The program also has grant funding for Metro partners to conduct outreach to disadvantaged communities and to measure equity as the system grows.
The program is planned to expand to many other communities within L.A. County, including Pasadena, North Hollywood, Burbank, Huntington Park, Venice, Marina Del Rey, East L.A., and San Gabriel Valley to create a region-wide system of more than 4,000 bicycles pending board approval.
The system will be operated by Bicycle Transit Systems, with bikes and stations provided by BCycle, a unit of Trek Bicycles of Wisconsin. These companies have successfully launched and/or operate more than 40 bike-share systems in metropolitan areas in the U.S. and abroad.
“Bicycle Transit Systems is committed to helping Metro Bike Share become a culture-changing blockbuster, by providing customers with an incredible, and safe, customer experience by Angelenos for Angelenos,” said Allison Cohen, CEO of BTS. “Metro Bike Share headquarters are based in Downtown L.A., and our diverse set of employees looks forward to providing Los Angeles County a safe and world-class service that we believe will expand rapidly.”
Station locations in the Little Tokyo/Arts District area:
• 999 E. Third St. (at Santa Fe), 15 bikes, 11 docks
• 740 E. Third St. (at Rose), 10 bikes, 14 docks
• 720 E. Temple St. (at Vignes), 7 bikes, 7 docks
• 369 E. First St. (at Central), 13 bikes, 8 docks
• 350 E. Third St. (at San Pedro), 18 bikes, 9 docks
• 134 Judge John Aiso St. (at First), 8 bikes, 14 docks
• 201 N. Los Angeles St. (at Temple), 18 bikes, 11 docks