Posted by: jdantos | October 23, 2012

Capital Bikeshare Usage: 2012 Mid-Year Update

In the last six months, Capital Bikeshare has continued to publish trip-level usage statistics for 2012, so I thought I’d update my earlier analyses to reflect new information up to June 2012. In the last six months, Bikeshare has continued to grow in Washington, with more stations, more bikes, and more trips taken. Bikeshare expanded into Alexandria in late summer, although these statistics aren’t shown in this data. All in all, this means data on nearly 1 million new trips in 2012 has been published bringing the total trip database to just about 2.3 million trips.

First, ridership continues to grow steadily: 2012 ridership is up around 30% year-over-year with 2011. In 2011 the system topped out at just shy of 150,000 trips per month during the summer peak.  This spring and early summer saw ridership numbers topping 200,000 per month. Here’s an update of the 2011 chart, showing basic system growth – ridership by month, by member type, from inception to June 2012.

Capital Bikeshare Trips by Month, by User Type, over time. Dark green highlights the 2012 data since last post.

Second, now that the system has been in place for a few years, we can start to see seasonal and year-over-year trends. Since Bikeshare is an outdoor form of transportation, it is of course dependent on the weather, and we’d expect to see seasonal trends as the temperatures change. Let’s plot that data again, only this time, over the 12 months in every year:

Capital Bikeshare Trips, by Month, Year-over-Year. 2012 usage seems to be up over the comparable time in 2011 by 30%, or by around 50,000 trips per month.

Usage is up by around 50,000 trips per month in 2012 vs. 2011, fairly consistently across months through June.

Third, usage seems to be trending slightly towards locals, who have monthly or annual memberships, and away from the “casual” one-day or 5-day passes. Up to the end of 2011, 20% of trips were taken by casual members; in 2012 that number was down 18.7%. Here is the data by month –  casual users’ share (of a growing system) is slightly below its 2011 levels:

Percent of Bikeshare Trips by Casual Users, by Month, 2011 vs. 2012. Casual members are declining slightly as a share of overall users.

This is a bit surprising, since several Bikeshare stations located on the National Mall near tourist destinations opened in 2012, particularly in the spring of 2012, which presumably cater more to casual users than locals. Did the growth from locals in other areas swamp the growth from tourists? Are more locals buying into the system and purchasing long-term memberships? Or is this just noise? (An examination by station might provide insight)

In any case, this growth in demand in the range or 25-30% is impressive.  Of course, the growth should be viewed in light of the expansion of service (bikes and docks) during the same time period, but it shows that more are using the bikes, and doing so with longer-term rentals.

Questions remain: is the system more or less peak-oriented? More or less weather-dependent? Future posts will begin to examine this by other dimensions. But that’s it for tonight!


  1. I like the “Capital Bikeshare Trips, by Month, Year-over-Year” figure and hope CaBi folks use it with appropriate credit!

    Not sure I see a trend in the “Percent of Bikeshare Trips by Casual Users” figure — it looks like casuals were down in February but so far that’s the only significant difference. Perhaps the weather was bad then, or some other factor?

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