A second season for bike-sharing program

Robert Sondak
Spare Change News

The New Balance Hubway bike-sharing system reopened for its second season Thursday March 15 with 60 percent of the 61 bike stations live and operational.

The system will be fully operationally by April 1 with a total of 610 bicycles for available use.

Nicole Freedman, Director of Boston Bikes, elaborated that Hubway will look to build partnerships with local corporations and non-profit organizations to help sponsor new bike stations. Harvard University, one of the area’s major educational institutions, has agreed to sponsor five of Boston‘s new Hubway stations. Four of these stations are located in Allston at Soldiers Field Park, Barry’s Corner at 219 Western Ave., Harvard Athletics at the corner of North Harvard Street and Soldiers Field Road, and Harvard Innovation Lab. The fifth station is situated in the Longwood Medical area.

Freedman pointed out that Hubway has continued to offer subsidized memberships to low-income residents of Boston. She stated that Boston is focused on enrolling as many new low-income members as they can.

“The Hubway subsidized membership program will be offered again through the Boston Public Health Commission,” Freedman said. “Our goal for 2012 will be to fill all 500 allocated membership this year.”

David Watson, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition, highlighted that program expansion involves a complex process for each of the new member cities. This development protocol encompasses designating locations, funding and signing an agreement with Alta Bike Share the project manager.

Watson remarked that Brookline represents the first of the three new member cities to reach an agreement with Alta Bike Share. Watson remarked that Cambridge has funding in place from a variety of sources, but they are still working on an agreement.

With Hubway expanding to new municipalities, Cambridge has raised over $1 million so far for a total for 20 stations within the city. The funding breakdown includes $300,000 jointly from Harvard and MIT. They received federal and state grants of more than $900,000. From the federal government they received transportation and environmental grants. Hotspots designated for bike stations include Harvard, Central, Porter, Inman, Lechmere and Kendal Square, Alweifle along with Harvard and MIT campuses.

Harvard University has created a collaboration with the City of Cambridge helping to establish a Hubway network. The university has helped by contributing funding and has agreed to set up four of these stations for the campus community and the public to use.

“Cambridge is finishing the development of their Hubway agreement,” Cara Seiderman, Cambridge Bike Committee said. “The agreement has not yet been completed and signed with Alta Bike Share.”

Seiderman elaborated further about the Cambridge Hubway project.

“Funding and locations are in place,” Seiderman said. “ I can not give a time-frame when the agreement will be signed.”

Seiderman pointed out that it takes four months to complete an equipment order with the manufacture Bixi of Montreal and for Alta Bike Share to complete installation.

“We hope to be on-line later in the year,” Seiderman said. “ We look to be operational sometime in the summer or early in the fall.”

Somerville is using its share of $300,000 from the regional federal transit grant to link up into the Hubway bike share system. This $3 million federal transit grant came from the Federal transit Administration and is directed to the MBTA. The regional Metropolitan Planning Council which Boston, Cambridge, Brookline and Somerville are members administers the grant.

Brookline represents the third of the new cities to join Hubway. Brookline is planning to use its $200,000 grant allocation from the FTA as well as $50,000 in private funds to plan four bike share stations initially.

“We crunched financial numbers and changed our proposed budget,” Jeff Levine Brookline Planning and Community Development Director said. “ Our Budget will include the setup of four fully equipped bike docking stations.”

Levine highlighted the four station location. Brookline has approved three locations so far and they include Brookline Village, Coolidge Corner, and the Town Hall block. The fourth location is still under review by community-town people. The leading spots under review include Washington Square, JFK’s Birthplace and the Allston/Brookline town line.

The total Brookline contract comes to about $360,000. This includes funding coming from the Federal Transit Administration, Metropolitan Area Planning Council and the Hubway Gift Account. Partners HealthCare also made a $25,000 donation.

Levine noted that the March 9 contract signing currently places Brookline ahead of Cambridge and Somerville in project development. Levine remarked that we are looking at around four months to complete an equipment order with the manufacture Bixi of Montreal and for Alta Bike Share to complete installation.

“We should be operational by July or early August.” Levine said. “Any changes in weather will throw us off by a couple of weeks.”

Levine pointed out that Brookline is well ahead of Cambridge and Somerville. They are expected to sign their contracts sometime in the near future.

ROBERT SONDAK is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.

Robert Sondak is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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