Monday, November 22, 2010

Milwaukee bike racks on buses prove their usefulness

Milwaukee Bike Racks on BusesIt's been popping up in the Milwaukee news lately that the bike racks on the count's buses are getting used pretty frequently, after the Milwaukee County Transit system put out a press release that their usage has rocketed up since last fall.

In August and September of 2009, the buses had 1,890 bike boardings, while in August and September 2010, they had 14,289 boardings.

The dramatic increase shouldn't come as a huge surprise. The fleet only became fully equipped with racks in August 2009, and it has taken time for people to get used to the idea that they can bring their bikes along on bus trips. Since August 2009, there have been more than 46,000 bike boardings.

Before the program was in place, the transit system projected the bike boardings could hits 100,000 a year. (That number was based on a ridership of 51 million; based on today's ridership of 39.4 million, the adjusted projection would be closer to 77,000.)

A lot of people have expressed impatience that the bike boarding numbers haven't reached the projections yet. But it seems a bit audacious to expect a brand new program to reach its full potential within the first year.

It should also be noted that the boardings that have happened have pretty much covered the cost of the bike racks to Milwaukee County. The initial investment in the racks by the county was $20,250 (the rest was paid by federal funds), and maintenance costs are less than $20,000, according to MCTS. The average income to the transit system from each boarding is $1.12.

46,000 x $1.12 > $20,250 + $20,000
or (in other words)
income is greater than expenses
or (in other words)
The bike racks are paying for themselves.

Good job, Milwaukee County!

(If you want to learn more about bike racks on buses throughout the state, look for our article on this topic in the next issue of Wisconsin Bicyclist, the Bike Fed's quarterly newspaper. It will be available in early December.)

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