It's Winter Bike to Work Week and, in fact, I have been biking to work pretty much all season long. Of course, this isn't so much to brag about this winter with so little snow and such mild temperatures. But I still feel the warm glow of political correctness and I'm actually enjoying the rides.
So this Idea of the Week is transportation-related: What if one card gave you access to four ways to get around?
That's the idea behind multi-modal travel cards developed in Europe a decade ago, and now available in some American cities. Here's how it works. You get one card that you swipe when you get on the bus, when you rent a bike, when you pick up a shared car, or even when you get in a taxi.
In Madison, those options would be the Metro Transit system, the B-cycle bike sharing program, the Community Ca auto sharing program, and the taxi cab companies. Those entities would get together and negotiate a bundled pricing system for the card. I don't know what that price would be, but the idea is that it would be valuable to the cardholder because there would be volume discounts, and because it would be very convenient.
It would also be good for the city because we know that one of the things that helps people feel comfortable about leaving their cars at home is knowing that they have options. If there was one seamless system that allows you to get off a bus and get on a bike to your destination, and maybe grab a cab or a shared car to get home late at night, it helps market all those services. We also know that for this reason one form of transit benefits another. We strengthen the whole system when we make it more integrated and simple to use.
I hope that Metro and B-cycle might start some talks in this direction in time for when the latter's cycles get rolling again this spring. We could call it the "Green Transportation" or "Green T" card. (Maybe it could also be used to purchase warm soothing drinks at coffee shops.) Involving Community Car and the cab companies might be a bit more complicated given the difference in the kind of service they provide, but I hope they might see advantage in hopping on as well.