Riders in Portland, Ore. and Fort Worth, Texas now have even more options for the first and last miles of longer trips.
In January, Portland, Ore.’s TriMet began offering another transportation option for the last mile after creating a new joint program with car sharing company Zipcar Inc.
The transit system added two Zipcars at three TriMet park-and-ride locations along its MAX rail lines for a total of six cars. The cars make the service more accessible to the existing car-sharing community while encouraging public transportation use by providing cost effective and convenient travel options for transit riders, according to TriMet.
Last year as TriMet was considering whether Zipcars would be a good addition to its park-and-ride facilities, it looked to other agencies to see how car sharing was working for their riders.
“We’d only seen positive partnerships at our peer agencies, which was a good indicator,” Angela Murphy, communications coordinator, TriMet, said.
TriMet now joins transit systems across the U.S. that work with Zipcar to bridge the last mile of transit trips, including San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit District, the Chicago Transit Authority, King County Metro Transit in Seattle and Boston’s Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
Combining transit with car sharing gives riders the option to be carless in a city and allows for significantly more mobility, Murphy said.
After launch, TriMet saw immediate interest: within 30 minutes of cars being posted as available at the MAX park-and-rides on the Zipcar network, two of the cars were already reserved.
Additionally, more people were looking to start riding transit now that they have this additional option to complete errands, Murphy said.
The cars are typically useful for re-verse trips: taking transit to a transit center with a Zipcar to run an errand, such as grocery shopping, in a location further away from the transit center, Murphy explained, then returning the car to the transit center and taking transit home.
“It’s really helpful to have a trunk or additional space,” she added.
“One of the things you always hear people say is, ‘I’d ride the bus, but it doesn’t take me to my job.’ So, we thought providing bikes might be a good way of taking that excuse away from people,” Tony Johnson VP, chief operations officer, The T, said.
Johnson and Kristen Camareno, who used to work for The T but is now the executive director of Fort Worth Bike Sharing, started doing research about three years ago and came up with the bike sharing program as a more cost-effective alternative to car sharing, Johnson recalled.
The bike sharing program operates with its own staff, but works with The T for promotion and grant funding.
Bike sharing members can sign up for an annual, 30-day, 7-day, 3-day, or 24-hour membership through Fort Worth Bike Sharing’s website. Then, they receive a “B-card” equipped with an RFID chip associated with their account in the mail, present it at a B-cycle bike sharing station dock to rent a bike and then return it to the station.
The program started out with 30 stations and added four more within the last 10 months it has been in operation.
The program is particularly popular with downtown Fort Worth residents, which is where the highest concentration of ridership is, Johnson said, possibly due to new development, such as shops and bars.
In the 10 months the program has been available, use of the bike share stations located at the main transfer center in downtown and Trinity Railway Express stations has steadily grown, despite having the lowest number of users of all bike sharing stations when the program began.
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