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Divvy could get $50M expansion, electric bikes

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Lyft wants the exclusive right to operate a bike share in Chicago

Lyft plans to drop $50 million into the Divvy bike-share program while adding electric bikes, doubling the size of the program, and installing stations in every ward. The proposed contract, which was announced last week, is still pending approval from City Council.

Lyft, which purchased Divvy’s operator Motivate last year, would have to modernize the program by 2021. That means bringing Divvy to every ward, and adding 10,500 bikes and 175 stations. All new bikes would be electric, pedal-assist bikes and have the ability to lock onto a normal bike rack.

Under the agreement, Divvy would offer a job training program for ex-offenders and youth and the Divvy for Everyone program for low-income customers would be expanded. The company would also pilot an adaptive bike-sharing program for people with disabilities.

The city would maintain ownership and set pricing, but Lyft would be responsible for operating Divvy. Lyft would also get exclusive rights to operate a bike-share program within Chicago. Earlier this year, the city piloted Uber’s Jump bikes and Lime bikes—if the contract is approved, competitors won’t be allowed. Any extension beyond Divvy’s nine-year contract would need City Council approval.

Over the nine years, the city expects it might gain a minimum of $77 million in revenue from Divvy. Lyft has agreed to absorb all operational, cost, and revenue risk of Divvy’s performance—so the city isn’t sharing in operating losses as before.

Another change to look out for this year, might be the use of Divvy through the Lyft app. Additionally, public transportation information could be integrated into the app as well. Lyft also operates scooters in other cities, but there’s no word on if those will be coming to Chicago. However, a scooter pilot program for the city is on the mobility task force’s list of recommendations.