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Capital Bikeshare Nearly Operationally Profitable

Posted By Angie Schmitt On April 20, 2012 @ 2:06 pm In Bike Sharing,Washington DC | 2 Comments

A recent US News and World Report [1] article explored the economics of bike sharing — noting that cities weren’t profiting from their new systems.


Since its launch, Washington D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare has recovered 97 percent of its operating costs through user fees. Photo: Bike Arlington [3]

That is hardly news. Few cities expected the popular form of public transportation infrastructure to be a cash cow.

More remarkable is the news that Washington, D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, the country’s premier system, is nearly operationally profitable, according to the U.S. News story:

Since its start in September 2010, Capital Bikeshare has taken in $2.47 million and spent $2.54 million on operating expenses. And that doesn’t even include the expensive things, like docking stations—which can cost well over $50,000 each—plus the bikes themselves. Those capital costs, at $7 million thus far, are covered by federal funds.

Roads, transit, sidewalks — no one is going around asking why they aren’t profitable in their first year and a half. No one expects that.

From a purely financial standpoint, bike-sharing in Washington is a much better value, as Streetsblog Network blog Systemic Failure [4] points out:

That is an astounding 97% “farebox” recovery. To put in perspective, the average rail system in the US is lucky to earn back more than 50%. The typical bus service gets back less than 20%.

And then there is the capital cost — a whopping $7 million. By comparison, a single 70-seat BART railcar will cost over $5 million.

There are dozens of reasons why bike-sharing is sweeping the country. The fact that they are cheap to build and operate, compared with the alternatives, is just icing on the cake.

Article printed from Streetsblog USA: http://usa.streetsblog.org

URL to article: http://usa.streetsblog.org/2012/04/20/capital-bikeshare-nearly-operationally-profitable/

URLs in this post:

[1] US News and World Report: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/04/17/bike-sharing-systems-arent-trying-to-peddle-for-profit

[2] Image: http://usa.streetsblog.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/5/2012/04/CB7-250px.jpg

[3] Bike Arlington: http://www.bikearlington.com/pages/bikesharing/

[4] Systemic Failure: http://systemicfailure.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/bikeshare-farebox-recovery/

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