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Bublr Bikes will launch into ride-share season two on Monday

by Tom Held | Mar 16, 2015

The team at Bublr Bikes has begun distributing 70 blue two-wheelers to 10 rental stations around the city, preparing to launch the bike-share system's second year on Monday.

 081914 Bublr Lee 17  Bublr Bikes registered 5,200 trips by
 users in the three-month Milwaukee
 pilot run in 2014. 

Bublr Bikes launched in Milwaukee in August of 2014, and provided a transportation alternative, primarily in the downtown area. The launch put Milwaukee on pace with all but a few other major cities in the U.S. that provide short-term bike rental systems.

With a few months' experience the system revamped its pricing structure for 2015, and will begin to expand into neighborhoods. Targets for 2015 include Bay View, King Drive, Brady Street and the Menomonee Valley, and the build out will be guided by public input gathered through meetings over the next several months, according to Kevin Hardman, executive director.

"The goal is to have 40 stations," Hardman said. "There's a lot of heavy lifting for us to make that goal."

Hardman is especially excited about a simpler pricing format designed to encourage more people to try the distinctive bikes produced by a Trek subsidiary, B-Cycle.

For walk-up users, the bike rentals will cost $3 for every 30 minutes of use. Monthly passes will cost $15 and include unlimited rentals for 60 minutes or less. If a monthly pass holder keeps the bike for more than 60 minutes, the $3 for every 30 minutes charge will apply. For more details, click here.

In 2014, users paid a $7 access charge that included the first 30 minutes of rental time. It was too confusing and expensive, particularly for people just trying out a Bublr Bike, Hardman said.

"What we did last year was hugely helpful to understand how to run a great system," Hardman said.

The bikes proved popular for commuters who traveled to Milwaukee by train, then pedaled to jobs at ManpowerGroup Inc. and offices in Schlitz Park. Tourists looking to travel between downtown attractions also put the bikes to good use, Hardman said.

"Cities are successful when there's a whole range of transportation choices," he said. "It needs to be a convenient and easy choice."

Bublr Bikes is a not-for-profit business started to create the bike-share system. The launch has been financed through $1.2 million in sponsorships and donations, $3.1 million in federal grants and $300,000 in city dollars generated through a tax-incremental finance district.

To reach the 5-year goal of 800 rental bikes at 100 stations across the city, Bublr Bikes projects it will need to generate $5.3 million from user fees and $3.7 million in donations, sponsorship and advertising.

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