Capital Bikeshare’s membership almost doubled with Living Social deal

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Karon’

In today’s WaPo DC Wire, Mayor Gray is quoted as saying that Capital Bikeshare has 10,700 members. What the Wire doesn’t mention is that the recent Living Social deal offering discounted memberships sold 8,118 items – a 76% increase in membership. While not all of those are necessarily year memberships they do expire within six months. That’s a huge increase in users for a system that currently claims to have 1,100 bikes – about 1 per 10 members.

25 more stations added in the District with 10 bikes per station brings up the total number of bikes to 1350. That means the ratio could get as bad as 1 bike for every 14 members if all those Living Social members redeem their certificates at once. 28% less availability is a big decrease – I see empty racks fairly often – what will this do to availability?

UPDATED: It’s worth pointing out that not all of those certificates will necessarily be redeemed. However even a 70% redemption rate – which seems reasonable for an expenditure of that amount that doesn’t take much to activate – will represent over 5,000 new memberships. The best result for current members who want to see as many bikes remain available is to hope that these new members will activate their memberships but never make use of them – the health club model, as it were.

Well I used to say something in my profile about not quite being a “tinker, tailor, soldier, or spy” but Tom stole that for our about us page, so I guess I’ll have to find another way to express that I am a man of many interests.

Hmm, guess I just did.

My tastes run the gamut from sophomoric to Shakespeare and in my “professional” life I’ve sold things, served beer, written software, and carried heavy objects… sometimes at the same place. It’s that range of loves and activities that makes it so easy for me to love DC – we’ve got it all.


10 thoughts on “Capital Bikeshare’s membership almost doubled with Living Social deal

  1. I think you’re a little late with this. Several other local articles have already reported that a large number of people who bought the Living Social deal are current members using it to renew their memberships, and that CaBi is expanding this summer which will increase capacity. From everything else reported it doesn’t sound like availability will be any more of a problem than it currently is.

  2. Your math is way off. Using your numbers, the Living Social deal increased membership over 314%, assuming they’ve all been redeemed.

  3. Chris, a 314% increase in membership would be 10,700 * (1 + 3.14), or 44,298 members. 10,700 + 8,118 is 18,818. 10,700 * 1.76 is 18,832 – I rounded ever so slightly.

    Gretchen, membership renewal would certainly be the best short-term payoff for CB though I’m not sure how well it works out for them long-term to have forgone future income in the future in exchange for approximately 25% of what they would have gotten otherwise. (Assuming the typical 50% return on sale price most LS deals yield the merchant)

    However the expansion is still only 250 bikes on top of 1,100 – less than a 25% increase. That’s a big gap between 76% and 25%. Yes, it could well be a wash when you combine certificates that are not redeemed with ones used for renewals. But without hard numbers we don’t know that for a fact.

    If the coupon works the way LS deals are typically pitched to merchants – as a way to capture NEW customers – then this is problematic expansion.

  4. Don –

    If Mayor Gray was using an up-to-date number (there’s no indication he’s not), then one would have to assume that the 10,700 includes those new members who purchased memberships from the Living Social deal. Thus,

    10,700 – 8,118 = 2,582

    8,118 / 2,582 =~ 314%

  5. I think the odds are that it’s somewhere in the middle, with some of Gray’s numbers including LS signups but not all. Personally I’d bet that the majority were not yet converted as folks dragged their heels on the process and waited for weather to improve.

    I’m also somewhat inclined to think that simply out of good will towards CB. Allowing THAT large an increase in membership would go from being a potential strain on availability and cross over into downright irresponsible.

  6. In the long run, the REAL “best result for current members who want to see as many bikes remain available” is to have more people use Capital Bikeshare. More users = more demand = (hopefully) more supply of bikes and stations.

  7. LivingSocial and Groupon still have a business model that is not great for businesses, but because they get so much press everyone jumps to be involved. There are other (possibly better) options available with sites like, where a business can advertise for free and not be required to share any revenue.

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