The Rail~Volution Will Not be Monetized

I’m headed to Rail Approximate Volution (or Rail~Volution for short) in LA in October to sit on a bikesharing panel, where I’ll try to not embarass myself in the company of highly-credentialed co-presenters like Dr. Susan Shaheen of UC Berkeley. I also just noticed that I’m in a Tuesday timeslot competing against Dr. Donald Shoup, so I suspect that I’ll be incurring The High Cost of Fabulous Speakers.

[Incidentally, for any fiscal conservative readers I’ve attracted in my two days of blogging, please note that my employer is not actually paying my expenses to go out there, this is a self-funded trip. For anyone in the same boat, I just saw on GGW that financial assistance is out there. Please apply and attend so that I can have at least one person in my crowd to counterbalance the Shoupistas]

Anyway, I will be giving some variant of a presentation on bikesharing and public transportation that I have given in a few different venues now, and there’s an issue that I have sorta dodged, and luckily haven’t been confronted on yet. But I’d like to throw it out for discussion…

Integrating bicycling and bikesharing with transit modes is an unquestionably Good Thing, for many reasons that I discuss in the presentation. But in the short term, transit agencies have car parking facilities that they have to pay down with user fees. So replacing a driver with a biker theoretically costs the agency some lost revenue. If we consider that bicyclist additive to ridership, we confront today’s transit reality where operating funds just aren’t necessarily there to enhance service levels to match increased ridership. But paradoxically, if that bicyclist is diverted from less-profitable feeder-bus service, lower ridership there would almost certainly result in service decreases. Please talk me off the ledge…

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