Although complete revenue figures have not been released, the city leaders say they’ve been satisfied with the ridership numbers so far for the city’s new bike share program.
In April, Carmel joined with private company Zagster to provide bikes that can be rented by the hour using a smartphone app. After 90 days, David Littlejohn, alternative transportation coordinator for the city, said that almost 1,100 rides have been taken using the service by 610 members.
“We’re pretty excited about the numbers,” he said. “We broke 1,000 riders around the three month mark.”
Littlejohn said those numbers are especially good considering that Carmel has experienced its wettest summer in recent memory with clouds and rainfall deterring some riders. In addition, it’s a new service that will take time to catch on and much of the city’s marketing efforts have been through partnering with existing resources such as tourism officials instead of spending money on advertising.
He said it’s growing every week and the biggest day ever was on a Saturday – July 11.
“It seems like a lot more people use it on weekends for recreational rides,” he said. “A lot of it depends on weather. Father’s Day was a big day. Fourth of July had a lot, too.”
New bike racks with additional Zagster bikes will be added on Main Street in front of Hamilton County Tourism. Another rack will be added in between Spring Hill Suites and Residents Inn.
Littlejohn said the bikes have been more popular than the adult tricycles, which make up only about one in five rides.
City officials said the cost of the program is about $110 per bike per month, which would require only one or two $3 rides a day to break even, given that the city keeps 93 percent of the revenue and the remainder going to Zagster. For 16 bikes and six adult tricycles for three months, that is more than $7,200 in cost so far. If there were 1,100 trips made in 90 days – and each ride is averaging a little more than an hour, which would mean $6 – then around $6,600 dollars might have been brought in. Numbers could be higher or lower if people signed up for monthly memberships at $15 a month or annual memberships at $75 a year.
“I want to emphasize that the bike share program was implemented to provide a service and amenity to Carmel’s residents and visitors,” Littlejohn said. “It wasn’t necessarily started to return a profit. I also want to note that the share program now has 51 bikes at six locations.”