Does bike share a substitute or complement for public transit?

Technology-enhanced bike share features a dockless system with GPS-tracked electric bikes and a mobile app. As an additional transportation mode, it offers users greater accessibility and more flexibility compared to traditional bike share. This paper examines the causal impact of a tech-enhanced bike share program on public transit ridership, using evidence from a mid-sized metropolitan area in the Midwest of the United States. Researchers use a difference-in-differences identification, exploring the exogenous hourly variation in precipitation and the fact that bicycle usage is limited when precipitation occurs. They found that the initial pedal bicycle fleet with a dockless system increased bus ridership by 1% and the subsequent upgrades to electric bikes further increased bus ridership by an additional 1.1%. The increased bus ridership occurred where and when the travel demand arose, providing suggestive evidence of bike share trips solving the first-/last-mile problem. The increased bus ridership occurred mostly in block groups with a lower median household income, a younger population, lower vehicle ownership rate, and lower homeownership rate.

Read more in this BBSP article on the case study.