In Pittsburgh, Transit Passes Come With Bike-Share Access at No Extra Charge

A new partnership between the transit agency and the bike-share operator in Pittsburgh will expand access to bike-share for people with a transit farecard. Photo: Better Bike Share via Healthy Bikes
A new partnership between the transit agency and the bike-share operator in Pittsburgh will expand access to bike-share for people with a transit farecard. Photo: Better Bike Share via Healthy Bikes

Two holy grails of bike-share service are increasing access to people without credit card accounts and integration with the local transit fare system. In Pittsburgh, local bike-share operator Healthy Rides is doing both simultaneously.

People who have a ConnectCard, the Pittsburgh region’s RFID-based transit farecard, now have access to unlimited bike-share trips of 15 minutes or less, reports Stefani Cox at Better Bike Share.

Cox spoke to Healthy Rides Executive Director David White about how the ConnectCard integration works “without requiring any registration on the customer’s part”:

To access the free 15 minutes of ride time, all an individual has to do is tap their ConnectCard on a bike share kiosk, input their phone number, and use the PIN number texted to their phone to access the bike. After the first use, the ConnectCard is linked to bike share, and all that is required is to tap the card on the desired bike.

There’s currently no limit on how many free rides can be taken. Someone could theoretically use the bikes all day, as long as they made sure to check the bike back in every 15 minutes. If someone does exceed their 15 minutes of free ride time, they will get a text asking them to register and pay for the overage before continuing to use the system.

While it’s too early to draw any conclusions about the success of the program, White noted that as of this Tuesday, about 100 people had linked their ConnectCard to bike share. All of those who linked their card then went on to actually ride a bike.

White said that by the end of this week, all 50 bike share stations should be on-line with the ability to link to the ConnectCard.

At 50 stations, Pittsburgh’s bike-share system is still pretty small, however, which limits its usefulness for first- and last-mile connections to transit. But Cox reports that the city is preparing to add 20 stations in lower-income areas that are underserved by transit.

More recommended reading today: Architect This City reports that the Trump administration’s proposed changes to the mortgage interest deduction would leave it in place for the wealthiest homeowners. And Darin Givens at Atlanta the City says local residents need to hold politicians accountable if children aren’t even safe walking on streets close to home.

  • Vooch

    whoever got this to work should be awarded a medal !

    15 mins is “grumble grumble” – but it’s enough to solve last mile challenge

  • ExpoRider

    Game changer!

  • I love this idea.

    I wonder if it could scale to a system as large as Chicago’s: 400+ stations, 4,000+ bikes. Let’s try it!

  • It’s probably enough to get between home and the bus or train stop.

  • I’ve made hundreds of bikeshare trips and I can tell you, 15 minutes is often not enough time. The truth is, a trip that involves riding a bike to a bus stop is often slower than just riding the bike the entire distance. Why not just give people up to 30 minutes free?

  • infinitebuffalo

    or, more likely, between the bus stop and work. Healthy Ride’s residential-area coverage is extremely limited—but since Port Authority’s route map is still very hub-and-spoke, if you’re coming in on, say, a line from the East End and need to get to the North Shore (where the stadiums, and several of the largest bikeshare docks, are) or the South Side, this could save you a transfer.

  • Guy Ross

    I’ve used systems all over the world and, yes, 15 minutes is quite short. However, I find the recheck wait time to the be most cumbersome. Even in London and NYC where checkout period is 30 minutes, the 5 minute period in London and 10 (?) in NYC is really a turn-off. I get the reasoning in order to prioritize people waiting for a bike above the renewal but anything longer than 2 minutes is counter productive.

    (it is possible I am missing something about why 5 minutes is necessary – If so, let me know!!)

  • Wilfried84

    In New York, the wait time to take out a second bike is two minutes. Not nearly as onerous as ten, but still a pain, and seems unnecessary. When I swap bikes, it’s almost always because there was something wrong with the first bike. There used to be no wait, but they upgraded the system, and the wait appeared.

  • Wilfried84

    Now if only New York would get tap cards.

  • Guy Ross

    Has this changed in the past two years? It was previously substantially longer the last time I used it.

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