Bike Share Program Planning with Tandem Mobility: Real Questions from Real Communities
Cities, universities, and private properties across the country are exploring creative shared mobility solutions for their communities and have had some great questions for us along the way.
In an ever-changing industry, we’re here to help make sense of your options and create a clear path forward to launching your bike share program with Tandem Mobility.
Over the next two weeks, we’ll be sharing considerations to help guide your own discovery process. This week’s Q&A focuses on program development and operations. The specific questions we will be answering in this installment will be as follows:
How can we add bikes, e-bikes, bike lockers, and maybe even scooters into our total transportation picture? Does Tandem Mobility manage all of these modes?
Shared mobility can provide connectivity for a broad range of user and trip types. And while the fully built-out solution may be realized in phases over time, just considering the end game at the onset of initial program design will provide valuable perspective for both the vendor/operator and the community partner(s). Granted, the conversation is much larger than the logistical considerations offered here, but for brevity, we won’t be digging into transportation planning and other relevant topics in this Q&A.
There are many ways to create and build on a shared mobility fleet. These options may be mixed and matched, all of them accessible to riders via our singular white-label mobile app and operated and maintained as one connected system.
Electric cargo trikes
Lockers (for bikes, longboards, motorized wheelchairs, etc)
For those communities desiring to solve for gaps in first- and last-mile transportation options, it makes sense to consider adding secure lockers to transportation hubs, thereby providing convenient and secure facilities for personal vehicles. Riders may then connect to the transit system via personal bike and make use of shared mobility options - whether they be pedal bikes, e-bikes, or scooters - available at their transit destinations.
Tandem Mobility can consult with you to make sure scooters will be a good fit in your shared mobility system. We provide small scale scooter programs for private properties and closed campuses, and are happy to create customized fleets with a variety of vehicle types.
We partner with Movatic, the leading software provider in the industry, to provide a reliable and straightforward rider experience.
Our software platform also supports manual rentals of “non-smart” fleets (i.e. bikes without integrated bluetooth locks), as might be the case at a bike library location.
Tandem Mobility operates a variety of vehicle types on the same program, all rentable through the same rider mobile application. This allows for fleet deployment and operational strategies to be cohesive, with each mode filling a specific transportation gap and complementing the larger transportation network. We offer either a turnkey bike share program or capital equipment purchase option with an ongoing operations subscription package. For those communities who already have many of these program pieces in place, we are happy to simply provide consultation, liability insurance coverage options, or hardware/software support as desired.
For programs with limited initial funding and opportunities to expand over time, we often recommend launching with a modest-sized program within a defined core service area. The density and visibility of such a system will not only have a great impact on adoption but, when thoughtfully implemented, will also provide reassurance for any community members skeptical of the program’s value. Once established, we find that there is not only less resistance but usually great enthusiasm for adding vehicles and stations in new service areas and in alignment with broader transportation goals.
How should we think about budgeting for these shared amenities?
Turnkey bike share is important for communities who desire a leased assets model with all program operations, maintenance, customer support, and liability insurance provided through one subscription package. This is our most comprehensive offering, with straightforward pricing which is scalable for fleet size and vehicle types. We provide turnkey pricing on a per-bike, per-year basis.
A la carte
We offer all of our products and services as a-la-carte options, which allows for custom program design around a unique vision or around existing local resources already in place to support a shared mobility program. We like to engage our community partners in a thoughtful discussion around existing resources, program vision, and budgetary considerations so that we can advise on products or services that would best fill in the gaps and bring the complete bikeshare program to life.
Flexible program subscription and payment options
We understand that budgets and cash flow are unique to each community. Therefore, we can be flexible on payment terms as needed. In addition, we can scale up or down the maintenance service levels, enabling each community to decide if our standard package will suit their needs or if more frequent maintenance or rebalancing is required.
What about launch timelines? How quickly can we get a turnkey program off the ground?
Programs typically launch within 2 months of contract signing. Tandem Mobility has immediate access to bikes in inventory, reducing any stress around the supply chain being a barrier to implementation.
While our internal fulfillment and project management processes are predictable, there are always external factors that could impact the launch timeline. We always like to flag these variables upfront so that we can maintain an open conversation and collaborative effort to reduce barriers and stay on track with the target launch date. Some of these variables might include:
station location permitting
timely receipt of partner/sponsor branding design files
identifying qualified local mechanic(s) to launch and operate the system ongoing.
Our most successful programs with smooth launches are typically those in which the local partner(s) are engaged in these efforts.
How does Tandem ensure successful operations (bikes at stations, not missing, and in good condition)?
Process & protocols
Many of our community partners have asked this question, no doubt rooted in their lived experience with underperforming bikeshare operators. No provider will be immune to operational challenges. That said, we at Tandem have taken great pains to evaluate the factors that influence the success of local operations, to establish efficient internal processes for tracking and scheduling maintenance activities and fulfilling replacement parts requests, and to provide the support and communication that our in-field mechanics expect in order to meet and exceed their contractual obligations.
Tandem provides multiple channels of communication for our partners, mechanics, and riders so that any mechanical concerns are escalated and addressed in a timely manner. We also build in regular check-ins with our local teams, track KPIs to ensure contractual service levels are being met, and provide a comprehensive resource library for our mechanics on an easy-to-navigate digital platform.
Our local operations are as good as the people we hire. We have fine-tuned our pre-screening, interview, and on-boarding process to ensure we are hiring the right person for the job. In our larger markets, we are hiring full-time employees. In our smaller markets, we leverage local independent contractors.
Bonus/incentives for mechanics
Our mechanics enjoy participating in the bonus program that incentivizes local contractors and employees to not only operate their share above 90% fleet availability at all times, but also to help grow the program through new sponsorships (if program growth is a goal of our primary community partner).
Parking deterrents & incentives
Bikes may always be temporarily locked to any bike rack during a rental, but the software is designed to restrict parking to designated stations when ending a ride in our dock-based pedal bike programs. E-bike and scooter programs with on-bike GPS tracking allows for the creation of preferred and mandatory parking zone designations, defined service areas for off-station parking, and other features of interest for our e-mobility programs.
Why is Tandem well-suited to operate small/medium sized programs?
We offer straightforward and scalable pricing schemes, for both pedal bike and e-mobility (or mixed fleet) operations.
We can provide a uniform or mixed fleet of vehicles specifically aligned with each city’s transportation needs. In addition, we encourage re-evaluating the program’s reach and goals as rider behavior and expected demand shifts over time. We can always add new vehicle styles or increase the number of vehicles in phases to ensure the program is adequately serving the community.
We are consciously maintaining a balanced portfolio of markets among our team so that we have the bandwidth to support our partner communities.
We offer a straightforward and transparent process from the beginning. Though we are really proud of the company we have built and are confident that we have the right systems in place to provide an exceptional bikeshare program experience, we are also constantly growing and evolving. We are committed to learning with and from our partner communities, building on and improving what we do and how we do it.
Data & Dashboards
Partners and system operators have full access to the entire administrative dashboard with a host of features:
Exportable ride data
Customer service and maintenance dashboards
White label app and program branding. Every asset (bikes, stations, mobile app) can be customized and easily updated at any time to reflect the local brand.
Ability to create and customize promotional codes and membership pricing, both of which include an array of modifications allowing for VIP discounts, senior or low-income plans, local vs visitor rates, unlimited coupons for local events or other promotional efforts.
Support for mixed fleets (e.g. managing a bike library fleet alongside a 24/7 automated bikeshare system, whether that be pedal bikes or e-mobility). All vehicles may be also managed in the singular software platform and available to riders via a singular mobile application.
Small and medium-sized cities are what we do. Both Keli and Stacy have overseen the success of 50+ markets between the two of them during their time at Zagster, a former turnkey bike share vendor. Having overseen programs with fleet sizes ranging from 15 to 400 vehicles, they have been in the trenches of bikeshare system design, management, and growth. The Tandem team has improved upon outdated industry business and operational models, prioritized relationships with partner communities, and we continue to believe that all cities - regardless of size - deserve bike share.
What’s the rider experience like?
Tandem riders have shared that they really enjoy these features:
Multiple rentals on one rider account. For convenience, we give the local partner complete control over customizing the limits allowed per account.
Smooth app experience
After downloading the Movatic app and quickly creating a rider profile, users simply scan the on-bike QR code or type in the bike number to start a rental. Ending the rental is as easy as locking the bike (initiating the process in the app then physically engaging the rear wheel lock) at a designation station. The in-app prompts are clear and simple.
We encourage riders to take advantage of unlimited lock/unlocks at public bike racks during the rental period. This feature makes mid-ride stops convenient while guaranteeing that the bike will be available for the duration of the trip. Who doesn’t love a slow roll through town, enjoying forays into small businesses and natural areas along the way?
Straightforward on-bike wheel locking mechanism with an additional integrated station cable lock to ensure the bike is safely locked at the end of each ride.
With programs that offer multiple vehicle types, riders enjoy having access to e-bikes, pedal bikes, scooters, bike lockers, and even kayaks on the same mobile app. This convenience is amplified with regional programs connecting multiple communities.
I have questions. How do I start a conversation with Tandem?
Perhaps you’re looking for a full turnkey solution or maybe you’d rather provide some elements of the program yourself and you just need some help sourcing hardware, software, maintenance, insurance, or customer support solutions. From program design consultation to implementation and ongoing operations - Tandem Mobility can provide support tailored to your needs.
Interested in learning more about how we can help launch a bikeshare system in your area? Reach out to us by filling out the form at the bottom of our website.
Stay tuned for next week’s Real Questions from Real Communities, where we'll be sharing information on program marketing and accessibility!