MTC, Lyft Announce Plans to Grow and Improve Bay Wheels Regional Bikeshare System

Alix Bockelman (MTC), Alfredo Pedroza (MTC Chair), Jesse Arreguin (ABAG President), Caroline Samponaro (Lyft), and Christopher White (SFBC).
Joey Kotfica

MTC and Lyft today announced a drop in both annual membership prices for the Bay Area’s Bay Wheels regional bikeshare program and members’ e-bike usage fees, as well as the addition of more than 2,000 next generation e-bikes to the Bay Wheels fleet and the rollout of 55 additional docking stations in San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. These measures are aimed at improving Bay Wheels’ long-term sustainability by growing ridership and reducing operational costs. 

Beginning today, the cost of an annual Bay Wheels membership will drop to $150 from $169 and the cost for members to use a Bay Wheels e-bike will drop to 15 cents per minute from 20 cents per minute. In addition, monthly members will now automatically transition to an annual membership at no additional cost when they renew for five consecutive months. MTC next year will launch a pilot program to provide reduced-cost annual memberships for Bay Area college students.

“Bikesharing, and e-bikes in particular, play a central role in our Plan Bay Area 2050 strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” explained MTC Chair and Napa County Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza. “The Commission this year committed $20 million of federal climate investment money to promote the use of e-bikes for more of the short trips Bay Area residents make each day. These improvements to the Bay Wheels system are a big part of that commitment.” 

The expansion of Bay Wheels’ e-bike fleet will begin this week in San Jose and San Francisco, with the addition of e-bikes to Bay Wheels locations in Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville expected to begin in the coming months, pending local approval. E-bikes’ ability to climb hills, travel longer distances, and attract riders of varying physical abilities have made them a transformational mobility option for Bay Area residents and visitors alike. 

“E-bikes are perfect for San Francisco — they make our steep hills flat. We're grateful to MTC and Lyft for helping make e-bikes more accessible to more people,” said Jeff Tumlin, SFMTA Director of Transportation. 

Bay Wheels’ existing e-bikes are used three times as often as classic pedal bikes. The system’s new generation e-bikes have double the battery life, a more powerful motor for going uphill, improved stability and ergonomics, and better theft deterrents. These new bikes will exclusively dock in stations to improve predictability and availability for riders.

“I’m thrilled that Lyft and MTC are helping San Jose expand access to alternative modes of transportation in our growing downtown,” said Mayor Matt Mahan. “E-bikes are a fun and affordable way to get around the city and they have the wonderful benefit of reducing traffic congestion and carbon emissions.”

“We are ready and eager to help make MTC's plan a reality to strengthen Bay Wheels and benefit the regional transportation network,” said Caroline Samponaro, Vice President of Transit and Micromobility Public Policy at Lyft. “Our shared goal is get more people to choose bikes for their transportation needs and we’re taking action on the three things that will make the greatest impact: lower prices for members, new hill-climbing e-bikes and a more robust station network.” 

To enhance the growth of Bay Wheels’ e-bike fleet, MTC and Lyft are piloting grid-connected charging stations using Lyft’s next generation station technology. Electrified stations improve e-bike availability for riders by increasing the number of bikes with sufficient battery charge and making operations more efficient. E-bike batteries currently are charged in a warehouse and manually swapped at the station.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area. Launched in 2017, Bay Wheels is the Bay Area’s regional bikeshare program with over 6,000 bicyles  —  both pedal-powered and pedal-assist electrict bikes — at more than 500 stations in San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and Emeryville. Lyft operates the Bay Wheels program under a contract managed by MTC. 

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