Yesterday, Capital Bikeshare (CaBi) released the results of their 2011 Member Survey, and the data gathered shows that Capital Bikeshare was helping users expand their transportation options and save time and money while meeting regional goals of reduced congestion and mode-shifting towards a healthier and cleaner mode.
Though no question about overall satisfaction with Capital Bikeshare was asked, a majority of users rated CaBi features highly (4 or 5 on a 5-point scale) in every category and in some cases as many as 75% of users did; and there are some obvious reasons to be satisfied. Users reported that since joining CaBi they have saved an average of $819 a year, which is quite a bargain for a $75 annual fee, assuming that CaBi is one of the main drivers for that savings (total cost per year is likely higher due to overage fees, but certainly not as high as $819). In addition, CaBi gave them greater mobility, with nearly half of all respondents reporting that with CaBi they made a trip that they otherwise would not have. We already knew that users are saving time over transit trips, but since many users are shifting from walking, it's pretty safe to assume they're saving time too.
But users aren't the only winners. DC and Arlington is achieving some of it's goals too, including congestion reduction, and greater use of cleaner, healthier modes.
Driving is a major source of pollution and congestion, and CaBi helped to shift drivers from cars to cleaner modes. 40% of CaBi users reported using a car less often since the program started and 94% of them said that CaBi played some part in that. As a result the estimated drop in total VMT is about 5 million miles per year. In addition more than 50% of respondents reported using taxis less often and 14% reported using car sharing less often.
As for congestion, 60% of all CaBi users reported using the bikes for commute trips when congestion is at its worst. And in contrast to driving, where almost no one reported driving more since getting CaBi, some of the reduction in transit use and walking was offset by people who used transit or walking more. So while 41% of respondents said they drove less, and none said more, only 31% of people reported walking less while 15% reported walking more. For Metrorail it was 47% less and 6% more and metro bus was 39% less and 5% more, all of which indicates a larger overall shift from driving than from other modes. Specifically during the commute, 57% of people reported changing their commute, with 44% reporting biking to work more, 10% reported riding transit more and 10% walking more.
Even shifting from transit to biking is still a win. That represents an increase in public health, faster loading and unloading, less crowding and less fuel use. In addition, 80% of respondents reported biking more and most of them reported that CaBi played an important role in that.
Another benefit was that CaBi's induced trips all occurred within the District or Arlington. Those trips were for social/entertainment, restaurants, errands and shopping. Which means that CaBi likely helped local businesses to capture more business from members.
And perhaps most interestingly, CaBi has been making money lately. Fot the last month on record, CaBi made $400,000 in revenue of which $120,000 is above operating costs.
But there is still room for growth. Based on concerns about dockblocking they believe it's clear that there is more of a market for CaBi commuting than can currently be supported.
And there are demographic shifts that are occurring that should grow usership. Women haven't joined the program as much as men have (only 45% of members are female), but since April 2011, the membership has shifted to a nearly equal split of 51% men and 49% women, suggesting either that women are now more aware of the program or that the program is more attractive to women now that it was at the start. The program is also overwhelmingly white (81% vs 53% for regional employees) but again it's shifting as non-whites have comprised 23% of recent members. And while nearly a third of original members owned a bicycle when they joined, only 22% of the most recent members owned a bike, indicating that the program is attracting more members who were not regular bike users.
Other information to come out of the survey includes
- Not only do users say that CaBi makes a business more appealing but the people say that most often are the same people who are most likely to say that CaBi induced them to take new trips
- CaBi saved all users a total of $15,000,000 a year.
- The survey was not totally random and they acknowledge that the average respondent does not match the average member. Part of that may be because the survey was online only.
- They're planning a second survey, and might ask about car ownership - and whether CaBi helped them to sell a car, crashes and ownership.
- 10% of members don't wear helmets because they don't need to. But others don't because they don't have a helmet with them or that carrying a helmet is not convenient.
- The 5 million miles of reduced driving is probably under-reported because they didn't ask about family members or people who got rid of/didn't buy a cars in part due to CaBi.
- There is no talk of raising prices, despite the large value of the program to users.
- Most respondents were from DC (about 4000 vs. 300 from Arlington).
- CaBi has sold about 300 helmets so far. Before selling them, they did talk to one store owner - who expressed no concerns. No other store owners have contacted them either.
- There is quite a bit of churn in membership. This is largely believed to be a function of the high student membership (10%) and the transient nature of DC.