Another year, another major expansion for Mexico City's 4-year old Ecobici bike share system.
The latest expansion will see an investment of 150 million pesos - or 11 million USD - to expand into 14 new square kilometers (5.5sq.mi) using 171 new stations, and 2,600 new bikes. Of those new stations, 12 will be added in areas that currently have service, to meet high demand.
To put that number in perspective, the system currently has 275 stations. With the expansion, the system will become the largest in the Americas, beating out New York's Citibike which has 330 stations. The system would still be smaller than the ones in Paris and London, as well as various enormous systems in China.
You can see the current station map here. A map of new stations has yet to be released. Mexico City is a huge place, and the stations are (rightfully) being compactly spaced out. That means we could be reading about sizable expansions for years to come.
The planners expect this year's expansion to attract an additional 60,000 new subscribers, which would add to the 120,000 subscribers today. Again as a comparison, Citibik had 90,000 as of last October, which is the last data I could find. Last September, Ecobici was nearing 100,000.
There's also good news for tourists.
Unlike the many US bike share systems, Ecobici has operated on a closed subscription model, as they use ClearChannel as a provider. What that means is that the system was ONLY open to residents of Mexico City, who had to fill out an application for a membership. The system also had a user cap, based on the number of bikes.
Last year, the system become available to non-annual subscribers who were willing to trudge to a central office, and have their passport scanned to open a temporary membership.
That silly system is coming to an end. Like most world bikeshare systems, Ecobici will soon allow people - including tourists - to buy a short-term membership straight from the station kiosk with a credit card. Pricing has not been announced, but as the annual membership is around 30USD, I would expect a day pass to be significantly less than the $10 common in the US.
Worried about biking in Mexico? The city has been adding protected bike lanes to encourage cycling. Last year, the city announced that all future public transit projects would include a bicycle component,, including the newest BRT line.
History of the system:
2010 - launched with 70 stations
2011- expanded to 85
2012/2013 - expanded to 275
2014 - will expand to 446
Expansion is expected to begin by June. Addition of credit card readers to current kiosks may begin earlier. Both projects are scheduled to be implemented through summer.
Source: Milenio.com (Spanish)
Source: El Financiero (Spanish)