The Prince George’s launching is smaller than anticipated, with a network of 49 bikes distributed among the five stations— three stations in and around Route 1 communities and two in Largo. County officials say they anticipate more stations will open in coming months.
Plans to add bikes at National Harbor are on hold pending the availability of grant money, county transportation spokeswoman Paulette Jones said. Last year county officials said they were working on an order for as many as 325 bikes and 35 stations that would roll out in the spring, with most destined for the Route 1 corridor and National Harbor. (A request for an interview to discuss the cutback and the launch was declined.)
“We are very excited to bring the first stations of our Capital Bikeshare network online on May 18th,” Darrel B. Mobley, director of the Prince George’s Department of Transportation, said in a statement. “They are a key component of our efforts to provide a broad array of quality transportation options in Prince George’s County.”
Prince George’s is the latest in the Washington area to join the fast-growing network of 4,300 bikes at more than 500 kiosks scattered across the region. The program that opened in 2012 has more than 32,000 members and recently marked 20 million trips. Riders can use the bikes with a $85 annual membership or a series of options, including a $2 pass for a 30-minute ride.
The system already operates in the District and Alexandria and Arlington, Montgomery and Fairfax counties.
The launch on Bike-to-Work Day will kick off an $1.8 million investment that will put bicycles and docking stations in some of the county’s most densely populated areas.
In a surprise move, the county is bringing bikeshare to Largo, an area of central Prince George’s that the county wants to convert into a sort of downtown. It also is an area lacking bike and pedestrian infrastructure and is farther from the existing Capital Bikeshare network. The soft launch next week will include a stop at the Largo Metro station and another at the Wayne K. Curry Administration Building.
The home to county government agencies, Largo is shaping up into a work center where hotels have sprung up, apartment buildings were built in recent years and leasing of office space has increased. Construction also is well underway on a $543 million regional medical center.
Along the Route 1 corridor, the stations will be in the Anacostia Trails Heritage area, which includes Mount Rainier, Hyattsville, and parts of Riverdale Park and in riding proximity to existing Bikeshare stations available in the District and Montgomery. They also are near transit and job centers and have the population density and bike infrastructure in place.
Prince George’s officials have said the plan is to expand within the county to other populated areas such as Greenbelt, College Park and Langley Park, and grow to 670 bikes and 67 stations over the next few years.
The county is paying for the bike equipment with federal and state grants. Once the program starts, officials said last year, the county will cover operating costs. But it is anticipated the county will recoup about 50 percent of the cost through memberships and user fees and the rest though advertising, municipal contributions and private sponsorship.