The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced great news last week that will lower the cost of the Biketown bike share system for college students and people with low incomes.
PBOT launched Biketown in 2016. In September 2020, Portland partnered with Nike and Lyft to expand the service area and upgraded the fleet to pedal-assist e-bikes. The downside to that expansion was higher prices that have caused grumbling among many. The new discount addresses those concerns by targeting aid to people who need it most.
Here’s the good news:
As of last week, every Portland college student who qualifies for federal financial aid (FAFSA) now also qualifies for a Biketown For All membership, which unlocks unlimited free trips for rides under 60-minutes and a host of other benefits.
If you attend Portland State University, but don’t get federal financial aid, you now get a $20 per month ride credit.
“So much work went into making all of this come together… I’m super excited that we’ll have bike share back for students.”— Clint Culpepper, PSU
And any Portlander who qualifies for Biketown for All (regardless of student aid) will also be eligible for a free membership. This means Biketown for All members will no longer have to pay the 5 cents per minute ride or $5 per month membership fee — making bike share even more affordable to those least able to pay for it.
The expansion of Biketown for All benefits was made possible by the Clean Fuels Program of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, which is administered via the Portland General Electric (PGE) Drive Change Fund. As we shared back in January, PBOT received a $130,000 Drive Change grant, “to further reduce financial barriers” to using Biketown, which goes to show what a big impact a relatively small grant can make in the lives of those in need.
Biketown for All already offered steep discounts to the regular membership fee and going rate; reducing these costs to zero is obviously a substantial benefit to qualifying students and Portlanders. In a press release last week, PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty hailed the new discounts saying she is, “thankful for the partnerships that will introduce Biketown to a new generation of college students.”
PSU currently has 10 Biketown stations and typically has about 40 bikes available on campus. Biketown 1.0 gave all PSU students free memberships; but since the new, higher-priced Biketown system launched in September 2020, students were left without any discount program. PSU Transportation Options Manager Clint Culpepper told BikePortland this morning that, “So much work went into making all of this come together… I’m super excited that we’ll have bike share back for students.”