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When Alta launched the system, a little appreciated trial was the Boulder electric truck (http://www.boulderev.com/) that they were going to use for rebalancing as one of three vehicles they initially bought for the purpose. This EV trial lasted all of two weeks before they sent it back to the manufacturer for not performing as marketed, and failing to meet the demands of rebalancing. My recollection is that the recharge time took far longer than advertised, which compounded over a brief period of time, and made it unusable for the rebalancing task.

This is not to say that 2014 tech isn't up to the challenge, in fact there are now electric transit buses running in the U.S., but in 2010, the EV truck was an admirable attempt at sustainability, but ultimately it failed.

Sprinter vans use Diesel, not gasoline. I wonder if that changes the equation. Also, they're now up to 10 Sprinters, as 3 were clearly not enough to get the job done.

As ever I believe we should not overlook pricing as a solution - IE find some way to incentivize people to take bikes from dock blocked stations and ride them to empty stations. Is that what ms badger means by human powered redistribution vehicles?

ACITS: as I recall, there's at least one or two bikeshare stations out there that use a rebalanced on a large bike hauling a trailer that can hold 2 or 3 bikeshare bicycles.

bikeshare systems*, not stations

That may look greener, but given the cost of labor I have a hard time believing its economical. I mean unless people are volunteering for the duty. A lot easier to get folks to volunteer to ride one of the bike share bikes.

An incentive program would be very difficult to get working. The biggest problems are with full stations in downtown D.C. on weekday mornings, empty stations in downtown D.C. on weekday evenings, and full stations in Columbia Heights and other areas within casual biking distance from downtown.

There's a smaller problem with stations at Metro stations and stations within biking distance.

Many people are obviously using the CaBi bikes to commute to and from work. They aren't going to go out of their way to ride bikes out of the central business district on weekday mornings. College students might have some time on their hands, but why would they want to head over to the CBD if they don't have a job there? How would they get there in the first place? There is relatively little residential near Farragut Square, McPherson Square and Franklin Park, so no local residents are available for the reverse traffic patterns.

The incentive would have to be quite significant. So significant that it would be too costly.

I had read that D.C. was planning to expand by 40 bike stations this year, until the Bixi bankruptcy slowed down those plans. If several of those new stations are added to the CBD, including some super-large ones at locations like Franklin Park, that would go a long way toward reducing the need for rebalancing. It wouldn't eliminate the need entirely, but it sure would help to have a 40 or 50-dock station at Franklin Park, for example. Or a few more stations within a couple blocks of Farragut Square.

There are a batch of college students at GWU pretty close to downtown DC. There are a some non student folks who do live near downtown in Penn Quarter and Foggy Bottom (and when my pet idea of granting waivers to the height limit for mixed use buildings goes through, there will be more ;) ) Also some folks coming in from the suburbs to places north of downtown who now take metro the whole way might be persuaded to get off and finish their commute with a short ride. And in the eveninn it might work better than the morning - there is after all some night life downtown (and more eventually?) which might encourage some folks to take bikes downtown then. It might not solve the problem but it would help, and I doubt it would hurt (though conceivably it could if the incentives went to folks who were going to be riding, and at the same timie, anyway)

There might be a way to make this work at the margin. Here's how I would do it.

1. Create an app that works in conjunction with the current rebalancing software that drivers use (or update Spotcycle to do this). Any member with the app can push a "request assignement" button to activate rebalancing.

2. When the app is activated it will identify where the member is and where the nearest rebalancing is needed. It will then send them an assignment in the form of a map that shows stations that need bikes removed in red, stations that need bikes delivered in blue and other stations as black.

3. If the member then moves a bike from a red station to a blue station they get a point. Points can be used for free or discounted memberships or prizes.

I don't see a lot of people doing this, but those who are looking for exercise might like the idea of moving a bike to a random location and then running home, for example. A 1% improvement in function is nothing to sneeze at.

the prize could be something very cheap to CaBi yet of significant value - like a free day (with out needing to redock) during a low usage time of year. Basically utilizing excess off peak capacity as a reward (which is what the airline frequent flier programs do)

I'm retired,so I've got all kinds of free time. But for me to ride CaBi bikes uphill,in this weather,would take some serious incentives. Like a date with Kate Upton. Or statehood for DC.

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