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Nice Ride 3 Month Update

Nice Rider

(Nice Rider by VeloTraffic, on Flickr)

A few months ago, I wrote about my first experiences with the Minneapolis Bike Sharing system, Nice Ride MN.  I had a pretty good experience with the system overall, and I have high hopes that the program will be a success.  A few days ago, Nice Ride posted a 3 month update on their blog, complete with pie charts and maps.  I am pretty impressed with the level of transparency we’re seeing from Nice Ride.

The most interesting part of this data is this map that shows the relative use each kiosk is getting. What general trends can we see in which kiosks are bing used, and which ones aren’t?  Ed Kohler over at made some pretty good observations about the data.  Head over there to see some of his ideas.

Nice Ride Kiosk Use

(Nice Ride Kiosk Use by edkohler, on Flickr)

While it is interesting to compare stations to each other, I was more interested in understanding how the overall system is performing.  How do these numbers compare to the projected usage and revenue levels? We really can’t draw any conclusions about whether the project is a success unless we have some sort of baseline to which we can compare the data.

I spoke with Mitch Vars, the IT Director (don’t let the title fool you, he assures me that he “wears many hats” around the Nice Ride office), who passed along a copy of the December 2008 Non‐Profit Business Plan for Twin Cities Bike Share System.  This document includes the initial ridership, subscription, and revenue projections.  I’ve provided the table below to show how they compare.

First, some caveats:

  • The projections were based on a system comprised of 1,000 bicycles and 75 kiosks. Nice Ride actually had only 42-65 kiosks, and 350-600 bikes.
  • The business plan presents annual projections, which I’m comparing to 3 month data.
  • I’ve tried to create a set of 3 month projections based on the 2008 annual projections that accounts for having less than the 1,000 bikes assumed for the initial projections.  My methodology is quite crude, so they should be viewed with several grains of salt.  My estimate assumes that all variables are linear – an assumption that is undoubtedly an oversimplification.

Nice Ride MN 3-Month Update Evaluation

A few observations (assuming my estimates are anywhere near appropriate…):

  • The number of annual subscriptions is well below the estimate.
  • The number of 24 hour subscriptions is well above the estimate.
  • Trip fees are approximately equal to the estimate.
  • Total revenue from subscriptions and user fees is somewhat below the estimate.

This corresponds pretty well with what Mitch told me in our phone conversation.  He indicated that the number of daily trips has been higher than they were anticipating. He also suggested that one of the reason annual pass sales have been slow is because people are still trying out the system (with daily passes, apparently) before committing to an annual pass.  He said he also believes that sales of annual passes may be slow because people are viewing them more as season passes (i.e., not many people are interested in buying an annual pass in August when they know they won’t use it all winter).  He expects annual pass sales to be high at the beginning of the cycling season next April.

Readers, what conclusions can we draw from the 3 month update data provide by Nice Ride MN?

1 comment to Nice Ride 3 Month Update

  • Ren

    I definitely agree w/ the idea that people are testing it out. I personally used it 2 days this month while my own bike was in the shop.

    I wonder if the annual subscription rate will see a boost from incoming students this fall.

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