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Metro bike share isn’t working in Pasadena—and the city wants out

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The city might try dockless bikes instead

Pasadena bike share bikes
Staffers say the city only has money to keep the bike service running until the end of the month.
Philip Pilosian | Shutterstock

Only a year after Metro’s bike share initiative launched in Pasadena, the city is looking to put a halt to the program—as soon as the end of the month.

In a report prepared for the city’s Municipal Services Committee, transportation staffers indicate that the city’s bike share budget will only be enough to keep the service up-and-running through the end of July.

The city agreed to a two-year contract with Metro in 2016 that expires at the end of October. But Pasadena may back out of the deal early, citing unforseen costs and lower-than-expected ridership.

The bike share system attracted more than 10,000 users in each of its first two months, before ridership plummeted to less than 4,000 in December. Since then, the numbers have been slowly improving, but not to levels needed to cover the city’s maintenance and operation expenses.

Even with fare revenue factored in, the city spends nearly $100,000 per month to keep bikes in good working condition, according to the report.

Previous reports also highlighted the low ridership numbers and suggested the city would exit the bike share program once its contract with Metro expires.

But now, Pasadena’s transportation department plans to let Metro know Wednesday that the city will leave the program early.

That could open the door for privately funded bike sharing services to set up shop in Pasadena. The city’s transportation department is also considering new regulations on dockless vehicles, which are popping up all over Los Angeles and the country.

Those rules would need to be fleshed out in coming months, but transportation staffers suggest that they would be similar to those established recently in Santa Monica and those now being considered by the city of Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, Metro continues to expand its bike share system into new areas, with lower fares to entice more riders. By next year, the agency expects to install nearly 80 new stations with around 700 rentable bikes.