Brighton’s Popular Bikeshare Sees Charges Increase

BTN Bike Share, an electric hybrid system launched in the tourist and student city on 1 September 2017, has increased its fees for the first time. Previously, casual hires were £1 for up to 35 minutes and then 3p/minute. They are now: £1/hire + 3p/minute. Annual subscriptions are now £72/year with 30 minutes/day ride time (down from 1 hour).

From 1 August 2019 (changes from previous shown in brackets):

CasualAnnual Membership
Membership Fee£0£72
Start Fee£1£0
Usage Fee3p/minute3p/minute
Usage CreditN/A
(was 35 minutes/jny)
30 minutes/day
(was 60 minutes/day)
Out-of-Hub* End Fee£2£2
Out-of-Hub* Start Credit£1£1

* Bikes parked near hubs (e.g. if the hub is full) are not considered to be out-of-hub.

The changes in charges seem designed to encourage shorter journeys, which, as this is a popular, well used system, is likely to make it more efficient. BTN Bike Share may in fact be the UK’s most well used bikeshare system.

Trip Numbers

Some data on usage between the launch and July 2019 (i.e. 22 months):

  • 1.25 million miles travelled (2 million km). With an average of 320 bikes over 570 days that means each bike does an average of 11km a day – impressive!
  • 650,000 journeys. This suggests an average journey of 3km and a typical 3-4 trips per bike per day (t/b/d). 3km is higher than the ~1-2km average distance travelled on a bikeshare bike across other cities, but then research does suggest electric bikeshares typically do result in longer journeys.
  • 80000 subscribers. This sounds like a hugely impressive number considering the population of Brighton – so I wonder if this is actually the number of distinct users, including visitors taking one-off trips. I can’t believe that 80000 people are paying the annual membership fee.
  • As of July 2019, the system reports they have 570 bikes and 68 hubs. On Bike Share Map we’ve seen a maximum of 459 bikes available for hire, seen at the end of May 2019 – a discrepancy of 24%. However, the number of hubs is correct.

Our own t/b/d research, looking at docking station data, suggests:

Q1Q2Q3Q4
2017No data2.3
20181.54.75.43.0
20192.83.9

We detected approximately 690,000 journeys which is broadly consistent with the published number. We notice that Brighton sees around 10% more journeys on weekdays than weekends.

(Data courtesy of James Todd.)

The system is publically funded, with the council investing £290,000, and the national government investing £1.6 million. The council receives back 50% of profits above £330k made by the operator.

BTN Bike Share is operated by Hourbike on behalf of Brighton & Hove City Council. It uses Social Bicycles pedelec bikes, an older version of those used by JUMP systems. Social Bicycles subsequently created the JUMP brand for their electric bikes and were then bought by Uber.

It remains to be seen if the fees increase will dent the popularity of the system, and whether it will cause a shift towards being more tourist used – a less price sensitive segment. Any weekend/weekday t/b/d change should be detectable in due course.

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