Lyft raises prices on e-bikes, triggering an online revolt

By Rachel Swan : sfchronicle – excerpt

Lyft will raise the prices of its popular street rental e-bikes next month, using a complex system that’s baffled users and prompted a revolt on social media.

Beginning March 2, customers of Bay Wheels, the bike rental company operated by Lyft, will have to pay 15 cents a minute to ride the black-and-magenta two-wheelers — a sharp jump for people who used to get unlimited rides with their $15 monthly or $149 annual membership fee. Those without a membership will still pay $2 to unlock an e-bike, but under the new pricing scheme, they will also pay 20 cents a minute to ride…

“This is a money-losing business that they’re involved in,” said Randy Rentschler, legislative director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which signed a contract with Lyft to build a regional bike network at no cost to taxpayers. Lyft provides that service through its classic pedal bikes, and the company has spent millions installing docks at curbs and outside transit hubs…(more)

A city lawsuit didn’t stop Lyft, but their inability to sustain heavy losses and placate investors may have run its course. The investors may do wha the courts could not, and start to pull the plug. Investors may demand a profit now.

The question we must ask is, how much of the loss may effect the “investment” SFMTA and the City and County of SF has invested in the program? What is the current public/private relationship between Ford/GoBikeLyft/Bay Wheel’s, or whoever they are banding themselves as now, and the City and County of SF and the SFMTA, or and other Departments and Agencies?

Who signed the present agreement? Which of San Francisco’s many departments is responsible for keeping track of the city’s portion of the net profits/losses of the program as specified in the agreement? If you understand this question, and would like some backup history, you will find much of it by doing a search of this blog or you may want to do a request for documents.

Last we checked there are still taxpaying, rent paying traditional retail bike shops in SF that you may buy or rent a bike from. You don’t have to rely of a “bikeshare” company to ride a bike. We counted four of them on Valencia. If you would accept the “old-fashioned” method of obtaining a bike you should have no trouble getting around on an e-bike. You might find that keeping some of the bike shops alive instead of plaguing them with competitors is as large a benefit to you as it is to the shopkeepers and their customers. After decades in business the retail bike shop owners know what they need to stay afloat.