Zagster, a bike share company specializing in small-scale turnkey projects, has partnered with the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority (NNEPRA) to provide bike sharing services to passengers disembarking at the Portland, Maine station. This is the latest of several projects the company has implemented recently, including projects at Yale University and at Discovery Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Ten bikes will be available at the Portland Transportation Center for up to a 24-hour period at a cost of $20. Each bike contains a lock and a key so that users can ride to different locations and do daily activities without having to return to a station–in this case, there is only one.
The project is, thus, slightly more attune with an automated bike rental program than it is a traditional bike share program, which normally encourage quick turnover of bikes and allow them to be dropped off at multiple locations. However, Zagster’s NNEPRA project is predicated on the notion of meeting the first and last mile demands of transit riders–a concept integral to the utility of bike share. So, while we can debate the semantics, this project is meeting the goals of bike share by attempting to make less carbon-intensive modes of transportation more accessible and attractive.
Getting access to a bike is relatively easy. Passengers of the Amtrak Downeaster can join Zagster at www.zagster.com, then text ‘start’ plus the bike number (e.g. ‘start 46′) to a phone number. A confirmation message with the access code for the lock box is texted back. This action reserves the bike for the remainder of the day or until the bike is returned. Riders text “end” to the same number, which releases the bike for the next rider.