METRO partners with B-Cycle with consideration to take over program long-term

Metro will spend up to $500,000 over the next 6-9 months to help B-Cycle and determine if it should eventually take the program over.


A Houston BCycle bike sits near a downtown Houston METROrail station.

METRO's board voted unanimously on Thursday to enter into a short-term partnership with the local non-profit Houston B-Cycle. The bike share program has been struggling financially for the past two years, resulting in the closure of some of its bike stations. Houston Public Media reported last week that METRO was considering taking over the program.

The bike share program first started in Houston in 2012, giving residents another option to get around the city. Over the years, Houston B-Cycle has seen a decline in users, including a significant drop since the pandemic. Since the start of the year, the non-profit has suspended 75 of its 150 bike stations.

Now, Metro will spend up to $500,000 over the next 6-9 months to help B-Cycle and determine if it should eventually take the program over. METRO President and CEO Tom Lambert says this is a short-term fix.

"We need to get a short-term agreement with the existing operator to make sure we sustain where it's at today as we're going forward to develop a transition plan," he said. "I fully intend to come back to this board, with a recommendation to how we integrate bike sharing as part of our multimobile approach to serve this region."

A letter released by the non-profits Board Chair, Maya Ford this month, stated the non-profit had a hard time keeping up with the demand of their services which caused the non-profit to have to increase its expenses.

During the board's public comment period, many voiced their support of the two integrating including Kristina Ronneberg, Policy and Advocacy Director of Bike Houston – a cycling advocacy non-profit.

"METRO service area is sprawling, serving so many people and it's just impossible for the bus service and light rail on its own to offer adequate and total coverage," she said. "Operation of Houston Bike share will allow METRO road to cover more."

METRO's Board Second Vice-Chair Roberto Trevino said, the bike share program is the missing link in METRO’s being multi-mobil.

"I think it is a critical missing piece to our existing portfolio," he said. "For any transit project we always say, it starts off with a walk or ride to transit and by incorporating this into our portfolio – we're taking a look into the entire transit experience."

Houston B-Cycle's Board Chair Maya Ford did an interview with Houston Public Media a year ago. She said she wanted to expand its services into more underserved communities and provide better payment options for Houstonians like what METRO has.

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