Capital Bikeshare has 3,000 bicycles at 348 stations across the D.C. area. The bikeshare program is raising its prices for the first time since it launched in 2010. (Photo by Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)

Starting this spring, it will cost more to join the region’s popular bike sharing network.

Capital Bikeshare has approved new membership prices, raising the annual membership fee from $75 to $85. The new fares go into effect May 1. The bike system of 3,000 bikes and 348 stations across the region — in the District, Alexandria and Arlington and Montgomery counties— had not raised fares since its 2010 launch.

The new price structure includes price changes for casual access and for members who pay on monthly installments.  Capital Bikeshare will also remove the $101 authorization hold placed on credit and debit cards when someone purchases short-term memberships at stations.

Capital Bikeshare's new pricing structure.
Capital Bikeshare’s new pricing structure.

Meredyth Jensen, a program director for goDCgo, which manages Bikeshare’s marketing, said the fare increase will help pay for some improvements and more expansion. At the urging of users, Capital Bikeshare plans to try new “rebalancing” efforts, she said. At a recent open house, members asked for improvements in the availability of bikes and empty docks at stations. She said Capital Bikeshare will experiment with bike corrals in high-ridership areas during the system’s busiest hours.

“We have expanded so rapidly over the past four and a half years, and we never increased prices. So this is really sort of catching up after years of major increase to our operating expenses,” Jensen said. “The nice thing is that the increased revenue is going to allow us to start doing more pilots and operations … and of course the number one thing is future expansion in underserved regions, getting more Bikeshare stations east of the River.”

The system’s expansion plans have been on hold since Bikeshare’s main bike provider went bankrupt last year and the system’s operator has not been able to acquire new equipment. Officials said they hope to buy more bikes this summer.

Capital Bikeshare is a joint program of the District, Alexandria and Arlington and Montgomery counties. The program has passed the mark of 9 million trips and is one of the most successful such systems in the country.