The Bikeshare Planning Guide Operating Costs

A bikeshare system’s operating costs reflect its size and sophistication. The city will need to estimate (and work to minimize) operating costs if it plans to manage the system through a public-private partnership that includes some cost-sharing. Otherwise, operating costs fall completely to the operator(s), and the level of transparency around those costs will vary. As part of an MOU or permit application process, cities should require operators to provide estimated operating costs and proof of financial ability to shoulder those costs.

Rebalancing is by far the most significant operating cost, but others include staffing, replacement parts, fuel for service vehicles, marketing, website hosting and maintenance, electricity and/or Internet connectivity for stations, membership keys, warehouse and storage insurance, and administrative costs. Depending on the contracting structure, the operating costs may also include debt service.

A bikeshare system’s operating costs reflect its size and sophistication. The city will need to estimate (and work to minimize) operating costs if it plans to manage the system through a public-private partnership that includes some cost-sharing. Otherwise, operating costs fall completely to the operator(s), and the level of transparency around those costs will vary. As part of an MOU or permit application process, cities should require operators to provide estimated operating costs and proof of financial ability to shoulder those costs.

Rebalancing is by far the most significant operating cost, but others include staffing, replacement parts, fuel for service vehicles, marketing, website hosting and maintenance, electricity and/or Internet connectivity for stations, membership keys, warehouse and storage insurance, and administrative costs. Depending on the contracting structure, the operating costs may also include debt service.

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