Seemingly overnight, the Indego bicycle share program took Philadelphia by storm and almost everywhere you turn, you can find one of those bright blue bikes. With over 60 stations and 600 self-service bikes, Indego is making public transportation personal, and making it easier than ever to navigate the city! Peter Hoban is the general manager of Bicycle Transit Systems, which specializes in bike share launch, operations, and management right here in Philly, and also manages the operational elements of Indego. Read on to learn more about what it takes to make Indego run!
Philly PR Girl: Tell us a bit about yourself! Are you an avid biker, and are there other activities you enjoy? What previous jobs did you have that prepared you for your current position?
Peter Hoban: I wouldn’t say I’m an avid biker. I ride to work every day because, for me, it’s cheaper, quicker and easier than riding transit or driving a car. People who drive to work every day don’t get labelled as avid drivers.
As for other activities…I am relatively new to the City so I am just discovering Philly. I don’t think I’ve scratched the surface yet so I’m looking forward to getting out and exploring this summer. On an Indego bike, of course. Before working at Indego, I spent four years setting up bike share programs in Melbourne (my home town), DC, Boston, Chattanooga, NYC, Chicago, Columbus and The Bay Area. I work with some very experienced and passionate people, we are hoping to bring the best of all of those cities and make Indego the best it can be.
Ultimately bike sharing is all about the people who use it, and Philadelphians have embraced Indego like no other City I’ve seen. It has been an amazing first month and we are flat out trying to keep up with the demand.
Philly PR Girl: What role did the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) and Bicycle Transit Systems play in the planning of Indego’s launch? How are they involved in daily operations?
Peter Hoban: The team at MOTU have played an incredible role in bringing bike share to Philly. Cara Ferrentino and Aaron Ritz (more affectionately known as Caron), are leading efforts from MOTU and have been working extremely hard to educate Philadelphia about bike share. Countless hours of community outreach have been done to make sure the system is designed for Philadelphia. Specific attention has been placed on making the system accessible to low-income Philadelphians who stand to get the most benefit from low cost, convenient and healthy public transit. In terms of daily operations, we (Bicycle Transit Systems) are contracted by the City to operate Indego. We have specific performance metrics and service levels that we need to achieve and we report those directly to the City. We also work very closely with them to make decisions about short term operating plans as well as future growth strategies.
Philly PR Girl: Describe to us a day in the life of the General Manager for Indego. What are your recurring responsibilities?
Peter Hoban: The great thing about Indego is that normal days don’t exist. Every day we are working on a new way to provide a better service to our members. We have only just finished our first full month of operation so the learning curve has been very steep. We have a team of dedicated staff that work very hard to maintain the bikes, distribute them to stations when people want them and to help members and riders when they need assistance. Our front line staff are the most important people at Indego, their job is much harder than mine. I do what I can to make sure they have the resources they need to do their job, which mainly consists of coffee.
Philly PR Girl: What challenges did Indego anticipate facing during the program’s rollout? Are there any hurdles, expected or unexpected, that your team is currently working through in the first couple months after its debut?
Peter Hoban: We anticipated a lot of challenges during the roll out. Implementing a new form of transit in a City is something you only get one shot at. The key to launching a successful bike share program is being able to identify the critical path to launch and to make sure you stay on it! After launch is probably the most difficult. There is very little usage data available so it’s hard to predict how people are using Indego. We are in a reactionary stage at the moment. Another 4-6 weeks of data collection will really give us a good sense of how to optimize the system.
Philly PR Girl: Tell us about your plans for development over the next year or so!
Peter Hoban: MOTU are currently working on expansion plans for 2016. Similar systems in other cities have seen rapid growth in the first 3-4 years and we are expecting the same thing to happen here in Philly. While the actual size of expansion in terms of stations and bikes aren’t finalized, we are expecting to see expansion into new neighborhoods as well as increased station density in areas of high demand. In the short term, we are expecting to install 3-4 new stations this season, as well as increase the size of some popular existing stations.
Philly PR Girl: What is your favorite thing about the Indego bike share program and its impact on the Philadelphia region?
Peter Hoban: My favorite thing is coming to work every day and seeing that hundreds of rides have been taken before I’ve had my first cup of coffee. But you should really ask the people who have taken over 50,000 rides in the first month why they like it. I think you’ll get a better answer.
So far over 3,600 people have signed up for a monthly membership online at www.rideindego.com. Only $15 per month for unlimited rides up to one hour! We have cash payment options available, too. It sells itself, really.