The City of Vancouver launched Mobi in July of 2016, a bike share program designed to inspire healthy living, increase bicycle usage and provide an additional efficient transit option for locals.
There are 150 bike stations and 1,500 bikes located in Stanley Park and the downtown core, bounded by Arbutus Street, Main Street and 16th Avenue. In order to use Mobi, day, three month or annual passes can be purchased. Users have the ability to ride a bike for up to 30 minutes at one time, before returning the bike to any station. This makes transportation for commuters much more convenient, giving them easier access.
Unfortunately, Mobi only benefits a small percentage of Vancouver’s citizens, because the bike station locations exclude a large portion of the city, including a lot of areas where students who attend UBC live. Mobi and UBC could both benefit by installing stations in and around the UBC campus.
Mobi attempts to help UBC students and staff commute by giving them a discount on their annual memberships. For their standard annual membership, they allow UBC students and staff to purchase it at $99, compared to the regular price of $129. However, this discount is in some sense irrelevant, because people living and working in or around UBC cannot use Mobi as transportation for their commute due to Mobi’s limited locations.
The City of Vancouver is funding a private company, Vancouver Bike Share Inc., millions of dollars over the next five years to operate Mobi. The City will receive a confidential percentage of revenue for each bike used during the first five years of the bike share operation. However, if Mobi doesn’t get enough users, the experiment will be seen as a failure and a waste of taxpayers income.
With 1,500 bicycles, the startup price of $5,000,000 is paid for by the taxpayers of Vancouver. This, coupled with the $800,000 in foregone benefit of metered parking annually to make space for the bike racks, as well as an additional $500,000 in subsidies for staffing and other costs, makes Mobi a costly investment.
Mobi’s most recent expansion included installing five new bike stations in the Stanley Park area, and they plan on expanding towards Third Beach and English Bay Bathhouse. These areas are highly concentrated with tourists and recreational bike users.
Mobi’s targeted consumers were intended to be commuters who use the bikes on a daily basis. Rather than expanding towards Stanley Park, Mobi should focus on expanding towards UBC and on the campus of UBC, and also including the surrounding areas like Kitsilano, West Point Grey and Dunbar.
By expanding their locations towards UBC, Mobi would increase the amount of users they have. There are tens of thousands of students attending the University, and hundreds of professors. Many of them would surely benefit from an alternate way to get to and from campus in the case of commuters, or travel around the large campus throughout the day. The City of Vancouver and Mobi need to expand to these locations in order get a greater return on their multi-million dollar investment, and benefit a larger amount of Vancouver’s citizens.
Ashley Tanaka is a second year student studying economics and political science. Jamie Konrad is a second year student studying economics and philosophy. Divya Dhami is a second year student studying economics. Tobi Gattinger is a second year student economics and mathematics. Gemma Ferguson is a second year student studying economics. Patrick Sun is a second year student studying economics.