CaBi goes corporate, should consider Eco Pass model
DDOT recently announced a corporate-sponsored bikeshare program that allows area employers to purchase bikeshare memberships to give to employees. As a next step, it should consider offering a blanket membership that applies to all employees, like the transit Eco Passes in a number of western cities.
The current program has four membership levels, from Bronze to Platinum, with varying levels of support. The lowest lets employers to offer a 25% discount to employees off the introductory rate of $50 per year, and the highest has the employer pick up the entire check, including overage charges.
The first corporate partner was the development firm Akridge, who bought memberships for 200 employees. Friends of the Earth and the League of American Bicyclists also joined.
Under this arrangement, the employers simply buy a block of memberships and distribute codes to employees to activate them. That's a good model for some employers. But DDOT and Capital Bikeshare should also consider another model for group payments, similar to Eco Passes.
How about instead of paying for only the employees that say they want a bikeshare membership, the employer pays for everybody they employ? Not every employee would end up using bikeshare as much as people who specifically signed up to get a code, allowing for a much lower cost per employee.
It's possible that spreading out the cost of bulk memberships could reduce the price to less than $5 or $10 per employee per year. After all, when you buy health insurance, you don't pay as if you have a major surgery and hospitalization every year, you pay based on the risk that you might have one at some point. By spreading out this payment over many employees, the cost per employee decreases.
VTA, in and around San Jose, CA, uses this model when pricing Eco Passes. Employers can buy passes for all of their employees for a big discount, because not everyone is going to use transit. Prices vary by size of employer and the location, with the cheapest passes available at around $9 per employee per year compared to about $1,540 for a transit pass. Other Eco Pass examples exist in Denver and San Diego
The benefit of this arrangement is to put a membership or pass in the hands of people that don't even know they want one. If you have to fill out paperwork in advance and obtain a key after working out the payment through HR, you're less likely to get a membership even if you think you might want one someday. On the other hand, if every employee could swipe an ID card or enter a badge number to get a one-day membership at any time, employees might try it out and end up using it.
This would be particularly valuable for colleges. Every student could automatically be able to use bikeshare using just a student ID. If few students used bikeshare, then the cost to the university could be extremely low. If a lot use bikeshare, then it's providing a valuable service and reducing demand for expensive shuttles or traffic around the campus.
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