Capital Bikeshare adds membership option aimed at occasional users


(James A. Parcell for The Washington Post)

Capital Bikeshare has added another membership option, this one targeted at people who occasionally use the system but don’t want to pay the monthly or yearly fee.

The “daily key” option, launched on Wednesday, is effectively another way to pay for the current 24-hour membership option. The main difference is that users purchase a key fob, like monthly or yearly members have, and can use that to activate a 24-hour membership whenever they want.

Riders buying the 24-hour membership had previously paid the $7 charge by entering their credit or debit card information at a Bikeshare station. With this key fob, riders still have to pay the $7 for every 24-hour membership period, but it will be automatically taken out of their accounts rather than requiring riders to enter the credit card information every time. (All of the other standard pricing for a 24-hour membership still applies.) The account has to be set up on the site.

This key can be purchased for $10 online. The $10 includes the key fob as well as your first 24-hour membership, said Chris Holben, the Capital Bikeshare program manager in D.C.

Bikeshare is offering the key fob to make it easier for occasional riders to purchase one-day memberships without having to go through the payment process at the station, Holben said. Carrying a key around could also remind people that Bikeshare is an option, he added.

In addition, Bikeshare is also dropping the $101 hold that had been placed on the card of anyone who signed up for a 24-hour window. Holben said that many riders complained that banks could take several days to remove the hold, which kept people from accessing that money.

“It was a theft deterrent, but people weren’t stealing the bikes, so we realized it was more of a deterrent to people who wanted to sign up for a membership,” he said.

Bikeshare, which recently set several ridership records, is in the midst of a major expansion.

There were 218 stations in the District, Arlington and Alexandria as of Wednesday, and Arlington and the District are in the process of adding dozens of stations. The District had 156 stations as of Wednesday, and the plan is to have 192 stations in place there by the end of spring or early summer. Arlington had 54 stations as of Wednesday and plans to reach 78 stations this summer.

And Montgomery County officials announced this week that Bikeshare would finally make its long-discussed debut there this summer, with about 50 stations planned in the county.

Mark Berman is a reporter on the National staff. He runs Post Nation, a destination for breaking news and developing stories from around the country.

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