Pasadena Plans to Pull Out of Metro Bike Share Program on Wednesday

Low ridership, unanticipated cost overruns doom bike program

Published : Monday, July 9, 2018 | 4:48 AM

[Editor's note: This article originally said Pasadena Transportation Director Fred Dock intended to inform Metro of the City's decision to terminate the program on Tuesday, July 10. that is not correct. In fact, Dock said he planned to take that action on Wednesday, July 11, 2018.]

Ridership is so dismal and revenue from Pasadena’s struggling Metro Bike Share program is so low that the program’s costs now threaten the City’s total transit operating budget and the City must terminate its agreement with Metro immediately, Pasadena Transportation Director Fred Dock said in a bombshell report released ahead of Tuesday’s Municipal Services Committee.

In fact, City staff plan to notify Metro on Wednesday that the City intends to terminate the program within 60 days or less, Dock said.

The City’s average monthly cost for the program for the past 10 months, even after being offset by farebox revenues, has been about $98,000 per month. City staff projects a total shortfall of $240,000 by the end of the current contract term in October, the report said.

Ridership has flatlined since a brief period of success. The program enjoyed a high of 10,764 rides in September of 2017, then suffered a rapid and steady decline to 3,826 in December of 2017. In May of 2018, there were 6,547 rides.

From the program’s inception, there were 37,181 bike share rides as of May 31, 2018.

Metro, in its initial Memorandum of Understanding with the City, had projected a 60% farebox revenue return by the City. This would have meant $1,729,094 in revenue to the City in the first two years of operations. From August of 2017 to April of 2018, however, farebox revenue—meant to offset the costs of building and maintaining the service—dipped from 10% of costs to a mere 5.5% of costs.

The average over the last year, has been 6.4%, according to Dock.

And, as the report noted, the City paid Metro $468, 411 from its Measure R funds back in July of 2017, to cover initial operation and maintenance costs, before the bike stations were actually installed. Installation delays caused the bike stations not to be installed until February 2018.

“These unanticipated costs,” said the report, “eroded the agreed-upon budget for the program to the extent that funding is now adequate to operate the program only until the end of July 2018.”

The Memorial Park, the Rose Bowl, Del Mar, Oak Knoll/Colorado, and Caltech East stations accounted for the most rides since the program’s launch, while the Lake/Union, Pasadena Museum, Lake/Merrett, Pasadena Central Library, and Fair Oaks/Hammond stations accounted for the fewest rides.

Meanwhile, according to the report, the City is researching regulations on managing dockless electric and/or pedal-assisted bikes or scooters, such as Bird Scooters, as used in Santa Monica, or a dockless bike system, paired with Lyft ride-sharing, as is used in Monrovia.