Divvy Finally Introduces $3 Single Ride Option, 45-Minute Time Limit for Members

Divvy is Also Raising Day Pass Price to $15, Allowing Pass Holders to Take 3-Hour Rides

Washington D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare already offers $2 single rides. Now Divvy will offer this option for $3. Photo: John Greenfield
Washington D.C.'s Capital Bikeshare already offers $2 single rides. Now Divvy will offer this option for $3. Photo: John Greenfield

Practically ever since the Divvy bike-share system debuted in summer 2013, Chicago cyclists have been asking for the option to buy a single ride. They’ve also requesting that the 30-minute time limit for holding onto a bike be extended, so that they don’t constant have to watch the clock to avoid late fees.

Four-and-a-half years later, they’re finally getting what they asked for. Divvy announced this morning that it will be offering $3 single-ride fares and extending the time limit for members to 45 minutes. They’re also raising the price of the $9.95 day pass to $15, including the option to take leisurely rides of up to three hours — as many as you want within a 24-hour period — and rebranding it the “Explorer Pass.” Starting on February the single ride and Explorer Pass options will be available for purchase on the Transit app.

“Divvy has been a tremendous success story in Chicago, but we believe that our customers will embrace more pricing options that are tailored to their needs,” said Chicago Department of Transportation commissioner Rebekah Scheinfeld. “These new more flexible choices will provide benefits to all Divvy users, and we hope encourage some casual riders to join Divvy as annual members.”

The single-ride option, which is already common in other bike-share cities, is a good opportunity for Chicagoans to try out the system before committing to a $99 standard annual membership. (one-time $5 Divvy for Everyone annual memberships are available to residents who make less than $35,310 a year.) It also offers a way to use Divvy as an occasional “first/last mile” option to and from transit stations for people who don’t think they would do so more than 30 times a year. Single-ride users will be limited to 30-minute trips.

Notably, the $3 charge is more expensive that a $2.25 CTA bus trip or $2.50 ‘L’ train ride. While it’s the same price as single rides in cities like Milwaukee, Minneapolis, and San Francisco, it’s also costlier than the $2 single-ride option available in cities like Washington, D.C., and much more expensive that the typical $1 charge for a 30-minute dockless bike-share trip. The cheaper cost for ride in the District is related to the recent need for an alternative to that city’s Metro system while extensive repairs were taking place. The low cost of a DoBi ride is partly due to the dockless companies being subsidized by venture capital.

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With an Explorer Pass, visitors who want to take leisurely rides along the lakefront won’t have to keep checking the time and searching for a dock to refresh their bikes. Photo: John Greenfield

Changing the current $9.95 day pass to the $15 Explorer Pass seems like a good way to make the system more useful for visitors while potentially increasing revenue. A relaxed spin on the Lakefront Trail should be on the to-do list for anyone visiting our city who like to ride a bike, but it’s currently not convenient to do so via Divvy, because you either have to re-dock your bike every half hour or else accrue late charges. With the new type of day pass, tourists can take a carefree ride for up to three hours without constantly checking the time and scrambling to find a station to refresh their cycle. Visitors who simply want to take a handful of short rides can use the single-ride option.

The one downside of this new policy is that it may hurt local bike rental companies, since it eliminates a main advantage they had over bike-share. On the other hand, unlike Divvy, those companies offer rentals for people under 16, helmets, maps, tours, and other services, so hopefully the change won’t drive anyone out of business.

Divvy spokeswoman Kelly Goldthorpe says the Explorer Pass is a first among major U.S. cities. “The pass was inspired by the way we see visitors use the system most – with long rides along the lake front and around town. We’re excited to offer products that really match the way our riders want to use the system most.”

The extension of the 30-minute time limit to 45 minutes for members will also make the system easier to use. Currently when I take a trip on Divvy from that will be longer than a half hour, I stop and re-dock the bike along the way, but it will be nice not to have to worry about that for trips less than 45 minutes. This new policy will be especially useful for residents on the South and West sides, where lower population density and issues with food and retail deserts means that destinations tend to be farther away than on the North Side.

The current Divvy late fee structure.
The current Divvy late fee structure.

Divvy is also simplifying the late charge structure to a flat fee of $3, which is more expensive than the current $1.50 for the second half hour for members, $2 for Day Pass Holders. But this fee structure is much easier to understand than the current rates, which get larger the longer you hold onto a bike, and the new fee is cheaper if you’re keeping onto a bike for multiple half hours.

In fact, visitors who wants to use a bike for a single extended ride but aren’t sure they’ll hold onto it for a full three hours might opt to buy a single ride and then rack up as many $3 late fees as needed. If they keep the bike for two-and-a-half hours this way, it will still only cost $15, while the the Explorer Pass would only save them $3 for a single three-hour ride.

It’s great to see Divvy responding to users’ requests for more flexible options. The next obvious move for the system is to look into retrofitting bikes with wheel locks so that they can also be used as dockless cycles. This which would help the network to stay competitive in the event that the city lets DoBi providers set up shop here. While this would require a strategy to prevent dockless Divvies from obstructing sidewalks, it would also create a new travel option for residents whose neighborhoods don’t yet have docks.

 

  • “They’re also raising the price of the $9.95 day pass to $15”

    This is sort of insane.

    The same company manages the London system, which charges £2 for 24-hours

  • Andrew

    Why do US systems continue to fail at pricing their programs appropriately? Imagine someone visiting Chicago for a week. He/she wants to use Divvy to get around, but is looking at paying $105 to do so. That price is crazy, and it will drive the visitor to use the CTA, for-hire vehicles, and/or a rental car instead.

    As Jass points out, London provides a reasonable price for a day pass. Nearly every bike share system outside of the US does as well. That goes for annual membership prices, too; overseas, those cost about half as much as they do in the US.

    We should be encouraging every able-bodied person to use a bike to get around — whether young or old, rich or poor, local or visitor. Asking someone to pony up $15 to hop on a bike is ridiculous, and it drives away a lot of potential riders.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    If you buy the explorer pass and ride an hour and dock the bike and then want to get another one after say stopping for lunch do you get charged another $15? Or do they keep track of how much time you have Divvy signed out, even if you have multiple short trips.

  • johnaustingreenfield

    “They’re also raising the price of the $9.95 day pass to $15, including the option to take leisurely rides of up to three hours — as many as you want within a 24-hour period — and rebranding it the ‘Explorer Pass.'”

  • Jeremy

    A one day CTA pass is $10. A seven day CTA pass is $28. That is maybe a price structure Divvy can add next: a long term rental pass.

  • Michelle Stenzel

    All these new options are great. The $15 24-hour pass for unlimited rides up to 3 hours is especially useful for visitors to Chicago, the vast majority of whom I suspect use bikes just to ride up and down the lakefront trail. For price comparison, a popular local bike rental company charges $25 for a four-hour rental, and $34 for a “full day” rental, which means only 8 to 12 hours, depending on the season. However, as you point out, the private vendors do have a variety of bike types (including hybrids, tandems, electric bikes, and road bikes) and other options that will still appeal to a segment of the visitors.

  • Jeremy Lewno

    Chicago taxpayers subsidize the DIVVY program which is supposed to be geared towards residents. Why are they moving their focus to tourists, an industry that is already satisfied by 6 odd bike rental companies along the lakefront. More and more DIVVY has moved and expanded along the lakefront for tourists at the expense of the average DIVVY member with longer lines at lakefront stations and less bikes at key places. All at the expense of the local taxpayer. DIVVY, stay in your lane and remember why you’re getting these subsidies, not to get a free ride into the tourism industry.

  • Jared Kachelmeyer

    Isn’t the tourist trade where they make the most money?

  • Courtney

    I was under the impression one would have to keep docking with the “Explorer Pass.” Thank you for clearing that up.
    I still think Divvy should offer a multi-day pass for visitors who want to use the system for multiple/all days of their trip. Why not offer a 3 day pass for $20-25? A 7 Day pass for $50.
    The 7 day pass is almost twice the cost of a 7 day CTA pass but I think there are some folks who will consider it a bargain.

  • Courtney

    I don’t think it has to be an either or; just my two cents.

  • Courtney

    Agreed. I saw your comment after mine. I definitely think they should add a multi-day pass for folks. It’s a no-brainer, IMO.

  • Jacob Wilson

    I’m kind of nervous about what encouraging recreational Divvy use on the Lakefront will do to the functionality of our newly separated path.

    I’m all for Divvy and I’m all for getting new people on bikes but Divvy ‘ride-once-a-year’ tourist groups are a public safety hazard. We’ve all encountered them weaving about, 2-3 abreast, taking selfies and video(!!!) while wobbling around one handed without a care in the world. I’m glad these people are getting on a bike and excited about it but the busiest bike route in the midwest is not the place to do it.

    Of course the LFP is not for racing and I don’t mind slowing down for slower riders but the only crashes I’ve ever been in or witnessed on the LFP involved (and were caused) by tourists on Divvys. The excuse of the one who literally ran into me headfirst was “I’m not from here”.

    I think Divvy was right originally to structure pricing to discourage lakefront cruising. I wonder if the separation project has something to do with this decision?

  • Courtney

    I could easily see Divvy or even CDOT doing a short YouTube video showing folks how to courteously ride the LFP. The QR code could be added to popular LFP Divvy Stations with a gentle encouragement for tourists/first-time riders to check out a short video on how to ride. Couldn’t hurt.

    I’m not sure what leg of the LFP you ride but I ride the path pretty frequently in the spring and summer from Bryn Mawr to Belmont (sometimes down to North Ave if I feel ambitious/ want a longer ride) and haven’t seen large numbers of “tourists” on the bikes. I will say I see lots of brave souls (a kind way to put it) riding on Michigan Ave and State St.

  • planetshwoop

    Tourists pay for the neighborhood stations.

  • planetshwoop

    What’s the “turnover” on the bikes? Is it comparable?

    Meaning, does a London bike avg ~5 rides per bike per day vs ~1 for the US?

    I agree it would be great if it we’re cheaper, but I suspect usage differs.

  • planetshwoop

    Really? Letting people ride a bike on the lakefront is one of Chicago’s greatest joys. Why would we deny that bc you’re on Divvy?

    I ride daily on the LFT and have never found Divvy to be a problem, esp not worse than adults riding big wheels, the rental bikes that carry 8 people, Lance-wannabes, etc. Most make me happy, seeing people enjoying a bike ride.

  • Jacob Wilson

    Obviously most tourists on Divvys don’t make it up much further north than Fullerton. The area between there and the museum campus will always be slow going but I predict it will also be more dangerous and congested due to the influx of Divvys now. We shall see!

    I definitely agree some education would help a lot. Would be great to see some really prominent signs at popular locations about trail etiquette.

  • Ha ha. Welcome to “induced demand”. I’m not really laughing at you but it is ironic, no? I think the issue is real though. I have wondered if the new flyover at the river is already too narrow.

    Of course what hopefully will be induced soon is enough need for a lane’s worth of LSD dedicated to bikes.

  • Jeremy

    Since the flyover is for cyclists, walkers, and runners, it is certainly to narrow.

  • Carter O’Brien

    Like this well done sign which was both difficult to see and also completely removed following the Fullerton reconstruction? I just don’t get it. The LFT challenges are always going to be there, but for the love of god, some of the simplest things would cost almost nothing:

    Just getting the vending kiosks off of the LFT (meaning, you should not be standing in the LFT to buy a snack or peruse sunglasses) and the seating benches (meaning, you should not be sitting on a bench that puts your legs in the LFT – just move them on the side close to/have them facing the lake.

    (I haven’t been on the LFT since the latest work, so I would be overjoyed if someone can tell me either of these moves were part of the project)

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/053deabe90be27a018acd9ef5fc80395ed3456cedba7a35987e21fb4389573a6.jpg

  • Carter O’Brien
  • Michael

    Divvy was a disaster right from the start… the city could have provided new, free bicycles to every single bicycle rider in Chicago – twice – with the the money they wasted on the this program since its inception. All those poor, underserved neighborhoods – instead of a divvy station, could own their own bicycle, and we the cost would STILL be less tax dollars than divvy.

    Tourists you say? Dozens of private, licensed rental companies downtown and on the lakefront so no worries there. Ditch divvy now.

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