Breeze bikeshare users will be able to ride longer, for less money, provided they sign up for one of the newly simplified membership plans available on August 1.

Council approved a new rate structure for the system in June and officials said the revised plans are designed to increase ridership while making the system more compatible with the emerging regional bikeshare networks.

Starting next month there will be four standard membership plans:

Pay as you go: $7 an hour (12 cents a minute).
Monthly pass: $25 a month with 90 minutes of ride time per day.
Annual pass: $99 a year with 90 minutes of ride time per day.
Student pass: limited to individuals attending a college/university, at $7 a month with 90 minutes of ride time per day.

Three specialty plans are available to businesses and low-income residents.

Businesses can purchase annual memberships for employee at a cost of $79 per year. If a business purchases an annual membership for every employee, the cost of that membership will be $19 per employee. Specialty plans will be offered to CCSM residents or other qualified low-income households at $60 per year.

All riders will be subject to miscellaneous fees including a $20 charge for locking a bike outside the system borders, $2 for locking a bike more than 100 feet away from a hub and $1 to replace a lost membership card. Riders can earn a $1 credit if they pick up a bike from outside a hub and return it to any hub.

Bikeshare coordinator Kyle Kozar said the new prices came about through workshops, research and coordination with other agencies.

“There was a number of reasons this came about and the biggest one was simplification,” he said. “Initially there were eight plans put out there and it’s good and I understand the thinking initially to serve a wide range of different user needs and types but it’s also more complicated. A lot of user comments are that the rates are complicated and hard to understand so we looked at how to make a general more simplified fare structure. “That creates an easier, clear user experience.”

He said the new plans, particularly the pay-as-you-go increase to $7 an hour will help create a unified bikeshare network throughout the region. Several nearby cities have opened bike shares or will open a program soon. Kozar said equalizing the price structures, or at least the hourly rate, will allow the different programs to create shared accounts that allow users to travel between cities using a single account.

“The simplified fare structure is a foundation for moving toward a regionally integrated fare structure,” he said.

Beverly Hills, West Hollywood and UCLA have all signed up for bikeshare programs with the same company.

“The idea is that at a minimum, if it’s the same bike share and the same fare structure, we can get a user agreement and revenue share discussion,” he said.

Kozar said the new rates were driven by ridership goals, not economics.

The program is already track to break even or generate a small amount of profit by the end of the year. About half of the income for this year comes from a corporate sponsorship with Hulu while user fees generate the remainder.

Kozar said Breeze isn’t intended to compete with or replace recreational bicycle rentals. Instead, the program is supposed to be part of a comprehensive transit plan that reduces the need for cars.

He said the radically discounted annual memberships available to businesses are designed to encourage employees to replace their cars with alternate transit, whether it is a train/bus/bike combo or just a bicycle.

“It’s about trying to get that social behavior change component,” he said of the business rates. “Employees that don’t live here are probably not coming on the weekends. They’re going to ride them for short trips around town, for lunch or for their commute. They otherwise would not ride it at all but we’re giving them the opportunity to do it.”

He said the goal isn’t to sell memberships but rather, to encourage as many people as possible to ride the bikes.

“Memberships isn’t the metric, it’s rides,” he said. “We want to see an increase in the number of users who ride that wouldn’t otherwise be using it. Those rides are what we want to see increasing with this.”

He said encouraging short trips that replace the use of a car, such as lunch breaks or short commutes, is the ultimate goal. “I think that it’s going to give more people an opportunity to use the system in the way we want it to be used.”

Kozar said the data shows growing ridership figures. The system recorded 830 rides per day during the month of May, increasing to 925 rides per day in June.

“Slowly, we’re climbing,” he said. “We’re really close to averaging two rides per bike per day or 1,000 rides per day.”

He said most customers are not choosing the most cost effective plans. The most common plan is the pay as you go despite a high number of riders

Breeze can track memberships by zip code and Kozar said they break memberships into three categories, Santa Monica zip codes, Los Angeles County and all others. Santa Monicans account for 19 percent of the total memberships, County residents are 34 percent and out of county visitors are 47 percent. However, when they track actual trips, Santa Monicans take 44 percent of the total trips, County residents take 23 percent and visitors account for 33 percent.

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