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LA bike share program gearing up for next year's launch

FILE: Early model of the L.A. Metro's bike share docking station.
FILE: Early model of the L.A. Metro's bike share docking station.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency

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Los Angeles will soon join cities like New York and Washington, D.C., in rolling out a bike share program, starting with about a thousand bikes located at dozens of stations downtown.

The program is expected to launch next summer with the aim, in part ,of bridging the first and last mile gap between people's homes or workplaces and transit centers. The program will eventually offer 4,000 rental bikes distributed around Los Angeles County.

Bicycle Transit Systems Inc. will operate the county's bike share system under a $11 million Metro contract.

Users will be able to check out a bike and then return it to any station, but how much that will cost is still subject to final approval by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

Metro officials have proposed several different fares, from a $20 monthly membership to a one-time fee of $3.50 for a half hour.

The proposed fare structure as presented by Metro staff.

Metro planner Diego Cardoso said the prices would be among the cheapest in the country.

“In downtown LA, it’s more expensive to buy a cup of coffee than it will be to use our bike share,” he said.

The charge for non-members would still be a dollar higher than in nearby Santa Monica, which launched its bike share program with another company, and double the price of a bus or train fare.

That worried L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who chairs the Metro Planning and Programming Committee that considered the fare structure Wednesday.

"(The non-member fee) is probably going to be the trial option for most transit users and I'm afraid it's probably not the right price point for the typical transit user in L.A.," he said, adding that nearly two-thirds of Metro riders are low-income residents.

To make the one-time fare more palatable to new users, Metro staff will propose a trial rate that's cheaper during the first month or two of service. The board is set to vote on the final rates next week.