The Chicago Tribune has an article on Capital Bikeshare and its inability to make money.
Despite its wild popularity, Capital Bikeshare has altogether outspent its resources. 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.
The question of revenue hangs over any bike sharing program.
Really? Then why is Capital Bikeshare expanding? Not only in the jurisdictions it's already in, but other communities are clamoring for a chance to lose money on it. Why is that?
The answer is positive externalities. Things like increased transit use, less driving, increased commerce, improved public health, livability, happiness and less pollution
Expenses and revenues, therefore, aren't the right metrics.
Of course, no one ever said that bike sharing had to be lucrative. In fact, most public transit systems lose money, as Moskowitz points out.
"It's not our prerogative or priority to turn a profit. It's to get people to ride bikes," he says.
And the Tribune story mentions these, but dismisses them.
Because it's a very young phenomenon in the U.S., in-depth analyses of bike sharing's costs and benefits in this country are hard to come by.
Bike sharing may promote exercise and reduce car trips to a certain extent, but it also replaces many walking trips with biking trips--making for no extra exercise, and eliminating no carbon emissions.
The author just blew past the critical part while simultaneously undermining. Bike sharing DOES promote exercise and reduce car trips. All the surveys show that. And THAT is the point. It's like saying, "While flu shots may save some lives, most people who get flu shots wouldn't die anyway, thereby providing no benefits." So bike sharing does reduce car trips and that brings social benefits.