[CLARIFICATION 7/15/19: anecdotal evidence suggests that most people are quoted a rate of 25 cents a minute.]
Last week, frequent commenter asdf2 made an important observation:
On another note, the per-minute price to ride a Lime bike has now gone up again to $0.30/min., exactly double what it was just 6 weeks ago. Assuming 6-8 minutes per mile (which is about as good as you expect for a route with stoplights), this translates into a marginal cost of $1.50-$2.10 for each additional mile traveled – a figure that is now *higher* than the marginal cost per mile riding in a Lyft or Uber car with a paid driver.
(I don’t know if Jump has matched this price increase or not, as neither their website nor their app discloses their prices).
At the moment, Lime bikes are still able to compete with Lyft Uber on price for trips that are extremely short (since Lyft and Uber charge a minimum fare of about $5/trip), but the new rates seem to suggest that Lime has completely lost interest in attracting business from anybody riding more than about 2 miles or so at a time (except for tourists who specifically want the bike experience and don’t care how much they spend to get it).
When the Seattle city council voted to allow Lime bikes on the city streets, you could rent pedal bikes for $1/30 minutes, and travel as much as 4+ miles in those 30 minutes under favorable conditions (e.g. along the Burke-Gilman trail). I don’t think anybody expected that within 2 years, a trip by rental bike would cost as much as doing the same trip in what is effectively a taxi. As a certain point, one has to question whether, at these prices, the service is still providing enough of a public benefit to justify the hassles involved with improperly parked bikes.
Should future renewal contracts come with language limiting how much these companies can charge? Or, do these price increases means that Lime is running out of venture capital money and is about to go under? Will Seattle find itself back to having no bikeshare within a few months?
This is more acute for “carshare,” at $1 plus 45 cents/minute, while a car, in general, will require less time to get there.
As bikes are way cheaper than cars, either the bikeshare companies are making a killing, or the various alternative ways of using a car are in more financial trouble than we realize.
Some forecasters thought these models meant transit was obsolete. More realistic observers suggested they could get transit out of the business of inefficient last-mile connections in low-density and non-gridded street patterns.
But if the business model is collapsing, then neither will come to pass. In any case, it appears that our brief biketopia of easy last-mile trips for negligible cost is gone for at least a long while. That is regrettable.