Case Study

Boston has too many Bluebikes.

Thousands of missed rides

Boston's Bluebikes system has over 3,500 bikes in the system but at any given time only about 300 are ever behing used. Each bike costs up to $1,200 each and adding docks can cost upwards of $50,000 each. Bike-sharing networks are capital-intensive, require expensive maintenance, and have low usage rates. Further, outages where docks have too many bikes so that riders cannot dock their bikes or where there are no bikes for a rider to pick up a bike causes frustration and reliability issues.

There are three stakeholders who all have unique incentives for wanting an effective bike-sharing system. Bike-sharing operators want to ensure that systems are used to their maximum capacities. The transportation department wants to offer commuters with last-mile options that keep riders out of cars to minimize congestion. Finally, riders want to minimize wait times for finding and dropping off bikes. Cities must find effective and reasonable strategies to mitigate concerns, but also provide equitable access.

Cut costs, maximize usage

With BikePath's proprietary simulation software, an analysis of the Bluebikes system shows that there are simply too many bikes in the network. Reducing the number of bikes by half reduces outages, maintains ridership, and cuts costs.

  • Significant induced demand

    The analysis shows that there has been a significant amount of induced biking demand in the network as a result of increased infrastructure.

  • Idling bicycles

    Too many bicycles go hours and days without being used, while others are used constantly.

  • Redistribution bottleneck

    Redistribution is a major painpoint as effectively getting bikes from A to B to C is inefficient and expensive. Efforts are focused on re-balancing docks with too many bikes, leaving many docks without bikes altogether.

  • Reduce the number of bikes

    Too many bikes in the system means increased costs and increased outages. Simulating an environment with half the current number of bikes means that the system can flow more smoothly, saving money and maintaining usage.