San Francisco Standard on Lyft’s Bay Wheels, the future of e-bikes in the city

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — ABC7 is delighted to continue its partnership with the all-new San Francisco Standard. Part of Building A Better Bay Area spotlights everyone working on the same mission that we have here at ABC7. That’s exactly what the SF standard’s in-depth and insightful reporting on the city does.

SF Standard reporter Sarah Wright took a deep dive into Lyft-owned electric bikes…known as “Bay Wheels.”

Costs have risen so quickly that a supervisor raises questions about the future of bikes in the city.

If you’re on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live

Wright spoke to ABC7’s Kristen Sze on the 3 p.m. show, “Getting Answers” Thursday, about what she found out.

We asked him what this agreement between the city and Lyft, which operates Bay Wheels, means.

“It’s an exclusive indictment. It started way back in 2015 before Lyft was in charge of the Bay Wheels fleet. This deal gives Lyft the exclusive rights, that’s why you really only see the black and pink bikes wander,” Wright said.

As for rider complaints about whether prices are opaque, too high or too variable, Wright says it’s a bit of everything.

“I think all of these things, especially for e-bikes, because for regular bikes and for people who have subscriptions, it’s pretty simple. You just go to a dock, you check a bike, and so it’s a short trip, it’s really cheap.”

RELATED: Lyft vs. Uber: How Their Dockless Electric Bikes Bay Wheels, JUMP Compare

But Wright says, “As soon as you start using e-bikes, or go longer than about 45 minutes, that’s when the prices really start to go up.”

She said she’s heard a lot of issues from users saying, “Hey, we didn’t know our bill was going to be like $50, and that’s what inspired this story to find out why. those prices are so high.”

A one-hour e-bike ride for a non-member can cost up to $21.

Kristen asked, “Is that a surprise in the sense that the contract covers what they can charge and their disclosure of those costs?

“The contract regulates the cost of a membership. So a membership is $159 per year, but what it doesn’t cover is the price for anyone who isn’t a member, or the price of a bike. electricity, which is in a separate contract. And Lyft can answer all those questions.”

Wright says Lyft recently increased its prices and thinks that surprises many users. But Lyft says its main goal has been to keep prices low for members.

RELATED: Lyft Pulls Its Fleet Of Electric Bikes From San Francisco Streets After Two Catch Fire

San Francisco supervisor Dean Preston commissioned a study on the future of Bay Wheels in San Francisco.

“So last year (Dean) Preston asked the budget and legislative analyst to create a report to show the city what their options are. So the contract that I mentioned earlier is in effect in 2027” , Wright said.

“So he wants to start looking at future options now by looking at other cities, what their models are, and where San Francisco can go from here.”

Supervisor Preston says a report will be presented on February 17th.

Watch the full interview in the media player above.

See other original reports from the San Francisco Standard here.

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