A new strategic bike share program that will utilize existing transit hubs is expected to roll out in summer 2024 after officials with the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County unanimously approved of funding the contract at a Sept. 28 meeting.

With this initiative, commuters will be able to combine METRO’s upcoming biking option with existing public transit, METRO Board Chair Sanjay Ramabhadran said, in an effort to address connectivity challenges.

“This gets us from the limbo that we are in, with the potential lack of a bike share in the fourth largest city, to having a system in place with our focus being...the equitable, accessible, sustainable component, is very critical,” Ramabhadran said.

Zooming In

The additional program will cost METRO $5.5 million and is tacked onto the fiscal year 2023-24 operating budget that was also approved on Sept. 28, according to budget documents.

METRO will work with PBSC Urban Solutions, a Canadian-based bike share equipment vendor that has operated in other major cities including New York, Boston and Chicago, according to its website.

Bike Houston Executive Director Joe Cutrufo said bike sharing is a crucial part of a public transportation system.

“I’ve been an annual member of two different PBSC-based bike share systems—Bluebikes in Boston and Citi Bike in New York—and based on my experience, I can tell you that this is a smart move,” Cutrufo said. “What’s good for the biggest and longest-tenured bike share systems in North America is good for the fourth-largest city in America.”

Sorting out details

While officials said at the meeting that details, such as the locations of the bike stations, will be shared further along in the process, a couple features of the program are available to the public, including:

  • 24-hour service
  • Initially, 140 electronic bikes located at 20 solar-ready stations integrated throughout METRO’s existing portfolio of transportation hubs in Harris County
  • By the program’s fifth year, expansion to 100 bike stations
  • Utilizing METRO’s app as the platform to access public transit and the bike share networkto find bikes, check availability and make payments
  • Affordable pricing options: the current FY 2023-24 full fare prices are $1.25, except for Park & Ride options

The context

Cutrufo also said at the meeting that Houstonians have come to expect a bike share system that gets them where they need to go, but with only 20 METRO stations to start the program, it will be difficult.

He stressed because Houston’s current bike share program, BCycle, was undergoing a lack of funding, bike share stations need to be maintained until METRO launches its bike share program.

Since May 1, BCycle increased its ridership fees to $5 for single trips and $25 for monthly memberships. According to its website, the decision was necessary to continue to service the area.

“Our bikes and stations experience more than 200,000 riders a year, which require constant maintenance and upkeep with increased costs,” its website states.