Redding Bus Riders Get Free First- and Last-Mile Bike Share Passes

by Odochi Akwani, Writer and Content Manager

Thanks to a year-long California State Transit Assistance grant provided through the Shasta Regional Transportation Agency, free bike share trips for bus riders are now available.

What’s worse than a commute is a long commute, especially if transportation options are infrequent. In Redding, California, a new bike share pass is underway to help Redding Area Bus Authority (RABA) riders on their daily commutes. The First Mile, Last Mile Pass gives RABA riders on fixed- and flex-route buses traveling to and from downtown a free, 24-hour coupon to use Redding Bikeshare, operated by the nonprofit Shasta Living Streets. Bus operators are ready to hand out these coupons to any bus rider who asks.

Redding Bikeshare, launched last May, is still in its infancy, but it is continuing its promise to put equity first.

“In a community like ours, buses don’t work so well because we’re spread out, and it’s really hard to run a bus. If you only have three people on it. It’s just financially not feasible,” says Anne Thomas, founder and executive director of Shasta Living Streets. “Bike share is actually the best transit in the main part of the city. It can move people around at all hours of the day where they want to go, and then the bus can function to get people to those longer distances.”

Redding Bikeshare currently has 16 stations with about 70 bikes throughout the community with more bikes and docks coming this month, according to their website. The stations are situated in areas of Redding where people don’t have access to a car, experience poor air quality, and make less than 80% of California’s median income. There are 22 affordable housing sites within the Redding Bikeshare service area, according to their fact sheet. Coupons can be used at any of these stations using the BCycle app and bikes are free to ride for 60 minute increments within 24 hours of activating the coupon. This allows people to activate a bike after work and ride again the next morning for their commute.

Although a smartphone is required to access a bike, Shasta Living Streets encourages those in need of a phone to visit California Lifeline.

To put this multi-modal option in front of people, RABA and Shasta Living Streets are working to pair bike share with bus routes through a suggestion on their Real Time Transit app for trip planning.

“People are coming in from far away, they hit downtown, and they don’t have a car. We’re a very car-centric space,” Thomas says. “The bike share, once you figure it out, and I’m watching now the people who figure it out, just can’t even believe their luck.”

Thomas hopes the First Mile, Last Mile pass is here to stay once the year is up.

“A lot of options have not been available for communities this size,” Thomas says. “Pedal-assist bike share opens up a car-lite lifestyle for this community that just wasn’t possible before. The bike share plus the bus is key for us. Otherwise, we’re just totally committed to car travel, which is really expensive for people if that’s their only way to get around.”