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Matthew Yglesias writes about CaBi and the network effect. He also hints at the feedback loop. More users leads to political pressure for more stations and that leads to more users which leads to more station and on and on until either full saturation or world domination, whichever comes first.

I made this very point semi-anonymously in the comments thread on Richard Layman's blog SEVERAL DAYS AGO!

Can't believe Yglesias gave me no attribution. That hack!

Have you heard anything concrete re whether CaBi members actually will be able to use their keys in other BiXi systems in general or Alta systems in particular? It would be pretty amazing to be able to travel to Boston or London or wherever and be able to jump on a bike.

I heard that a long time ago at a BAC meeting. But I've never heard of anyone doing it. Anyone going to Montreal soon?

Wouldn't it be systems run by Alta (melbourne?) rathr than ones that use bikes/docks from BIXI?

Maybe, but I think it's gotta be technology driven - the key is probably proprietary. And I think Melbourne uses Bixi too.

The difference between Bixi and Alta to me is unclear.

Is it that Bixi both makes the bikes & system and directly runs it in some cities while Alta runs the Bixi system in others?

Anyway, it would be great if these systems had a reciprocity agreement so that visitors could simply use the bikes without additional charge.

But I think the ability to use a bike is going to be tied directly to membership in a specific system (e.g. Capital Bikeshare) for legal reasons (one has to affirmatively waive all rights you know).

I suppose that if one knows you are going to be visiting another city with such a system a process could be put in place that would allow you to visit their web site to activate your key for their system and agree to their terms of use.

A second issue though is that these systems are funded in different ways. It might be that the sponsor in one city might not want free loaders coming in from another city.

According to Alta I'm wrong. You can't use the key in other systems, but maybe someday.

Given that the north american bike systems are all open to visitors, may be a moot point. I know Paris basically bans americans with the chip-card thing, and Bici (when I was there) banned non-catalans.

Who get the day pass revenue?

If Alta/Bixi extended their system to allow reciprocity I could see that becoming a positive towards winning new bids as well as an added selling point for new memberships.

Both DC and Boston are using Alta. Alta is also a finalist for NYC.

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20110317/FREE/110319879

Since each city funds the operations differently (NYC is looking for private funding) a mechanism would have to be in place for one system to charge the a visiting user.

I guess the question is, as charlie says, with daily membership being open to all why bother doing more?

I know B-cycle was working on reciprocity for Boulder and Devner. And that's Bixi's main competitor. I think we're going to end up with an ez-pass/fastpass (or whatever the midwest one was) situation with at least two non-compatible systems nationwide.

Here's why you bother. By creating reciprocity you make membership more valuable - and thus create more members. On the one hand, Boston members would be able to use DC's system for free, which would be bad for DC, but on the other DC systems would be able to use Boston's for free and that would be good. Even if it weren't free and I used my key in Boston and was charged a $5 one-day fee - like an overage fee - that would still be better than dealing with the kiosk. Also, if I'm NYC and see that two cities nearby use Bixi and the memberships transfer that more incentive for me to pick that. Furthermore it all makes it easier for people to not own a car.

I'll just write a post about it.

You've just described the network effect -- every additional node on a network makes the whole network more valuable because it increases the number of possible connections.

When you write that post, you should mention how great it would be do have a Cabi station at National Airport. You could fly down from Boston and hop a bike into town...

JeffB ....

Bixi = Public Bike System = Montreal Parking Authority = the Canadian G-Man.

Alta = operator who buys (licenses) the technology, bikes and stations from bixi. They then operate the system.

Alta COULD partner with Bcycle, but they have a relationship with Bixi.

The final EA on Klingle said "it is a necessary road" then build a road, two lanes wide just like its original configuration. All roads are bike paths.

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