Madison bike-sharing program grows

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Madison’s bike-sharing program is on target to record its highest annual ride total since selling its first ride more than six years ago.

Questions remain for Madison BCycle and other bike-sharing ventures about whether they should try to be privately run and profitable or operate like government-subsidized public transit, the Wisconsin State Journal reported .

The company expects to log about 110,000 rides by the end of the year, up from more than 20,000 rides when the service began in 2011, said Morgan Ramaker, Madison BCycle’s executive director.

BCycle has 44 stations and 350 bicycles in the city, up from 27 stations and 270 bicycles when the service launched. It also has more than 3,700 annual and monthly members, compared with just 500 annual members in 2011.

Despite BCycle’s growth, it still receives an annual subsidy from its parent company, Trek. BCycle receives revenue from user feeds, advertising and sponsorships.

Bike-sharing is similar to other forms of public transit, which typically aren’t funded through ridership fees alone, she said.