BOSTON — Boston’s bicycle sharing program, which just opened for its fourth season, is thriving, the program’s director said, at a time when similar programs in other cities are struggling financially.
The Boston Globe reports that Hubway opened last week with a positive financial prognosis, a fresh contract between the city and bike-share operators, an expectation that the system will continue turning a profit, and plans for 10 new stations.
“We’re in a very, very solid financial place,” said Nicole Freedman, director of the city’s program. “We’re in a position to fund expansion.”
Montreal’s bike-share program filed for bankruptcy in January. Last month, reports surfaced that operators of New York’s program had asked for tens of millions of dollars in aid from the city.
Some have attributed Hubway’s success to more conservative choices – closing for winter and launching with a compact system that spread cautiously – as well as its dependence on both public and private money.
Previously Boston divided the costs of operating the system 50-50 with Alta Bicycle Share, the contractor that operates and maintains the system’s bikes, stations, software and memberships. Boston uses public grant money, along with private sponsorships, to pay the city’s share without dipping into municipal coffers. Up until now, Alta and Boston have split the profits in half.
Now, Boston will pay Alta for the full operations cost, but in turn, the city will take all of the profits from membership fees and advertising.