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The Age reports Melbourne Bike Share (MBS) now costs $2 million per year and will terminate in December 2019 after nearly ten years operation. Each bike is only used once per day on average (Goodbye blue bikes: Melbourne’s bike share scheme canned).
It was evident from the outset in 2010 that the scheme would be a white elephant, a prediction confirmed within months of MBS commencing. Yet successive governments from both sides of politics let it drag on and on.
Why did it fail? There’s a number of possible explanations:
The key failing of MBS is it doesn’t address a significant mobility problem. If it covered the entire inner city – a five km radius from Town Hall – with a commensurate number of bikes and stations, it might’ve fared better.
Of course, a bigger scheme would cost much more, probably at least $50 million to set up and perhaps $5 – 10 million p.a. to operate.
Even then success would be far from assured. The performance of Brisbane’s CitiCyle scheme, which also opened in 2010, is even worse than MBS. Despite covering a larger area and having three times as many bikes and stations, average usage is lower.
Melbourne’s busy roads and the uncaring, even hostile, attitude of some drivers is a huge barrier to attracting casual cyclists. It’s important to understand that bike share largely relies on travellers who aren’t used to cycling in traffic; they’re easily “scared off”.
This article first appeared on blogs.crikey.com.au
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