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Fees spark confusion in Indy bike-share program

Indianapolis' bike-sharing program not an easy ride for renters confused by fee structure
Posted on Aug. 9, 2014 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Aug. 9, 2014 at 10:40 a.m.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A fledgling bike-sharing program in downtown Indianapolis has drawn thousands of riders, but some have gotten unpleasant surprises upon receiving their bill.

Riders say they’ve been confused by the fee structure for the Pacers Bikeshare program, which offers unlimited use of a bike for 24 hours in exchange for an $8 pass. That’s because renters have to check the bike in every 30 minutes at one of 25 stations along the city’s Cultural Trail or face overage charges that get steep in a hurry, The Indianapolis Star reported (http://indy.st/1ocrMYl ).

“They need to make this much, much clearer to people,” said Mary Ellen Mellitz of Crawfordsville, who rented a bike for eight hours last month and was charged more than $60.

“I was under the idea that this was a 24-pass,” Mellitz said. “And that meant I could have the bike for 24 hours.”

The program has proven popular in its first three months, with the 250 bicycles around the city being ridden nearly 53,000 times. Nearly 1,300 annual memberships have been purchased, and more than 16,000 24-hour passes were bought.

Karen Haley, executive director of the Cultural Trail, said rules for rentals are posted at every station.

Even so, overage fees have ranged from $50 to $150.

She said first-time riders who make a mistake and contact the bike-share program are being given refunds.

“We want people to have a good bike-share experience,” she said. “If someone does have a bad experience, we’ll work with them.”

Indianapolis’ overage fees are less than other cities. Chicago charges $7 for a 24-hour pass, but its overage fees jump from $2 for the first 30 minutes to $6 for the next 30 minutes and $8 for every 30 minutes after that.

Haley said the 24-hour pass in Indianapolis is designed to let riders have access to a bike at different periods throughout the day.

“Maybe take a morning ride, check the bike in,” she said. “Then go out in the evening.”

That doesn’t make sense to Jared Small of Indianapolis.

“I just don’t see why anyone wants a bike for maybe 25 minutes,” he said. “

Haley said riders are free to keep a bike longer without checking it in — as long as they’re willing to pay the price.

Information from: The Indianapolis Star, http://www.indystar.com




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