B-cycle just did something that no bike share company in North America has been able to do. It has linked its memberships so that B-cycle members can use the same membership in all other participating B-cycle jurisdictions. A member simply swipes the credit card used to purchase his or her original membership at a kiosk, accepts the user agreement, and, voila, the member is granted access to the system.
While the concept is simple, connecting memberships between different jurisdictions had its technological issues. According to Brent Tongco, B-Cycle’s Business Development Manager, it wasn’t until now that B-Cycle was comfortable with the software’s ability to protect user information and “communicate data and overall functionality of membership access between cities.”
And how is B-cycle sharing revenue between jurisdictions? Tongco tells us that membership revenue stays within the jurisdiction where the membership was purchased, while user fees–fees associated with going over the 30-minute limit, standard to all B-Cycle programs–go to the specific jurisdiction that the bike is being used in.
There is also the issue of membership price, as annual memberships to B-cycle programs differ between jurisdictions. Frugal Denver B-cyclers, who pay $80 for an annual membership, may go online and purchase a Broward B-cycle membership at almost half the cost. Tongco says that B-cycle has measures in place to prevent this, however, B-cycle has kept those measures confidential.
Participating B-cycle locations include the following 13 programs in operation and two to launch this spring:
The step that B-cycle has taken to connect its memberships is significant, especially as the company continues to launch additional programs and grow its network. But will other companies operating systems in multiple locations follow suit?
(Updated: 12:12 pm PST)