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I think people who are car-bound understand that CaBi has the potential to revolutionize the way that the neutral majority thinks about biking, and it's place in the hierarchy of road users. Trying to strangle it in it's crib with the charge that "it's a boondoggle" is a Hell of a lot easier than trying to stop people from using it once it's in place.

oboe, I think you are giving the car-bound way too much credit. Maybe their overlords in AAA know this :) but I think the car-bound are just plain frustrated by their life choices and tend to lash out at every convenient target.

"Criticizing CaBi now is like saying the Normandy invasion was a mistake. Look at the results."

Well, why can't one also say it's like looking at the Iraq invasion right after Saddam was captured in his spider hole?

It's a bit too early for triumphalism.

(and the question arises, qui bono? It's still a subsidy, so which demographics are benefiting the most? even if there is a broad diffuse benefit - or overall, like air pollution - there still may be an imbalance. i.e. EOTR ridership)

I wouldn't choose the Saddam capture point maybe, but your point is well taken. It may be too early. But we can only make decisions with the information we have now. And the info we have now, from here and other major cities with bike sharing is that programs provide positive results.

As for which demographics are benefiting most, I'm not sure how you would calculate that or why it would matter. "Cui bono?" you ask. Everyone. Are the benefits perfectly balanced across every demographic. Surely not. Show me the government function that is.

Hey, I'm about at the median income for the DC area (if not above). You want to give me more govie goodies in a time of constrained and/or declining budgets, I'm not going complain overmuch. And the private members of the public-private partnership seem like good wholesome only partly international businesses, not some evil corporation like Haliburton.

Much less snarkily, the biggest thing that concerns me is what the system will look like after a few years of use - i.e. will it be re-capitalized sufficiently, and at what (additional) cost? The bikes look and work great now, but so did the DC Metrorail when it first opened.

There is nothing wrong with subsidies--all forms of transportation are subsidized. In terms of operating expenses, the DASH bus system in Alexandria has a net operating costs of about $3/trip. Even in the first six months of CaBi, the net operating costs were about half that. Now they are close to zero.

And I agree with everyone else that lumping start-up costs in with operating costs is totally misleading. It makes more sense to compare CaBi startup costs to the startup costs for any other public transportation system. By that standard, CaBi is dirt cheap.

FWIW, CaBi moves about 4000 people per day, which is about 1/3 of the DASH average. So I think it makes sense to compare CaBi costs to DASH or to any other small municipal bus system.

I agree, subsidies aren't necessarily bad. We want to subsidize behavior that carries benefits beyond immediately apparent economic ones. This is why America's history of providing free K-12 education is often cited as one reason for our dominance in the 20th Century. If not subsidized, few would have bought it, and we'd be much worse off for it. Same goes for healthy activities (which is why we build free recreation areas) and other behavior we want to encourage. Active transportation should go on this list for obvious reasons.

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