As Santa Monica prepares to shutdown its five-year-old, city-run shared bike service, Lyft will roll out a fleet of hundreds of electric bikes, beginning Tuesday.
The new e-bikes will be docked at the city's existing 80 bike rental stations and cost $1 to unlock plus 34 cents per minute to ride. That compares to the city's Breeze Bike Share program started in 2015, which cost 12 cents a minute after a $1 initial drop.
Breeze was the first shared bike system in L.A. County, but once competitors such as Bird, Lyft, and Lime came to town, Breeze lost marketshare and ran a deficit that city leaders were not keen to subsidize. Last month, the city's bike share coordinator Kyle Kazar said with Santa Monica financially strapped by the pandemic, the city would permanently close Breeze and turn bike sharing over to the private sector.
When stay-at-home orders took effect this year, Santa Monica saw shared mobility ridership plummet by 94% between February and April. Lime and Jump terminated their operations, leaving Lyft and the hometown unicorn, Bird, as the only operators.
Since then demand has increased, especially as riders have favored micro mobility over crowded buses and trains. Bird and Lyft have returned their e-scooter fleet sizes back to 750 each and Lyft will roll out the 500 e-bikes.
Lyft already rents e-bikes in Columbus, Minneapolis, San Francisco, San Jose, New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Portland.
The electric bikes are available in Santa Monica but can be ridden and left as far away as West Los Angeles, with the option to park at any Breeze station for free. Otherwise, a user can park at any public bike rack for $1.
"I couldn't be more excited to see Lyft launch its new ebike program in Santa Monica," Mayor Pro Tem Terry O'Day said in a statement. "Our future depends on sustainable, active transportation like e-bikes. They reduce our carbon footprint and increase accessibility for the entire community."