Nice Ride crushed it with their 3-month update blog post. They broke down how things are working at levels well beyond what I’m used to seeing from non-profits. This level of transparency should be applauded.
For example, here’s a map they published showing the usage rates of the active 65 kiosks in the network:
I love this kind of data. Here are a few takes on what I see, based on being a Nice Ride subscriber, someone who’s been to all 65 kiosks, and a bit of an analytical geek.
1. The U of MN’s numbers seem low, but the timeframe is before school started. A college student who has to cross between the East and West Banks should be able to justify an annual subscription just for the time savings crossing the Mississippi river.
2. Kiosk density seems to help. Kiosks at the outer edges of the current network – especially in North, where the density is lacking currently – are the ones with the lowest usage. If you can go N-S-E-W from a kiosk, it’s going to do better. I mentioned this in the comments of a post on Johnny Northside where they were discussing locations for the 5 new kiosks that are planned for North. While it would be cool to expand the geography well beyond what Nice Ride covers today, I think the system will have the most chance of success if it grows in, say, 6 city block increments in any direction it chooses to expand in. Beyond that, it loses out on the power of the network.
3. Population density is another key to success. Just like transit, having enough people within walking distance of a stop is key to making the numbers work. Uptown, downtown and the U of MN have that going for them. As things expand beyond core high density neighborhoods, use will likely be lower because less people live within walking distance of kiosks. This may be an issue for the new stations being added in North Minneapoils since there are so many foreclosures up there, the density of population may not be all that high.
4. One thing that may improve the maps at the kiosks is to help people understand where they could realistically get to within 30 minutes via the Nice Ride bikes. The range is larger than most people probably realize. For example, I’ve picked up bikes at my closest kiosk, Birchwood Cafe, and cruised to downtown, Dinkytown, and St. Anthony Main with no additional trip charges.
5. Ladies, step it up. Only 38% of the trips have been done by women? You can do better.
6. The system is far from profitable at this point. For example, a grant from the city is helping expand the network into North Minneapolis by 5 kiosks for $228,500. That figure closely mirrors ($244,247) what the organization has earned in user fees to date. They have grants, sponsorships, and advertising that help bridge the gap.
That’s what comes to mind. Check out the reports. They have a ton of excellent information that helps explain how things are going.