In order to provide an alternative mode of transportation on campus, A&M Transportation Services has contracted with a company called Zagster to implement a bike share program.
The bike share program is a 24-hour service intended to help everyone get around quickly, efficiently and inexpensively on Texas A&M’s 5,200-acre campus.
The bikes are checked out using smartphone technology or text messages with regular cell phones, and are equipped with proper safety lights, internal gears, a lock attached to the bike, front basket and bell.
There are 75 Zagster bikes on campus and 10 Zagster bike racks strategically distributed across campus.
Transportation Services pays $150 a year for each Zagster bike. Bikes can be rented hourly by individuals on campus for $3 per hour or with a $25 membership the first hour of each check out period is free.
Ron Steedly manages alternative transportation for Transportation Services, and implemented the Zagster bike share program on campus.
“Zagster is a bike share as a service,” Steedly said. “The fee is paid by the host to have bike share as a service, and then they do everything. Zagster likes to promote local, so they actually hired local contractors to help them implement bike share as a service. They chose Aggieland Cycling to be the ones that do the maintenance and the repair on the bikes.”
Andrew Dobson, general manager and service manager at Aggieland Cycling, said Aggieland Cycling builds, repairs and maintains the bike share bikes.
“We’ll do maintenance. Our goal is two times a month, but at least once a month on each bike,” Dobson said. “We’ll do this so often to make sure no one is trying to ride a bike in the program and can’t because it is broken or not working properly.”
According to Melissa Maraj, Transportation Services marketing and communications manager, the new bike share program holds true to both university and Transportation Services goals.
“Introducing bike share not only complements the campus master plan, which is looking to make campus more pedestrian friendly and easier to access without a vehicle,” Maraj said. “It’s a great program to complement what transportation services provides overall.”
Steedly said his department removes abandoned bikes from bike racks across campus on a weekly basis. One goal in implementing the bike share program is to reduce the number of unused bikes on campus.
“We’ve got 75 bikes, so that’s the equivalent of 750 privately owned bikes on campus,” Steedly said. “So, if I can get 10 people to share each bike every day that’s 675 individually owned bikes that don’t need to be here. Imagine the clutter free environment if we could get 1,000 bike share bikes.”
In addition to benefiting students, the bike share program fills a need for campus visitors, Steedly said.
“In the fall my office gets calls all the time from visiting football fans asking if we have bike rentals because they just want to rent bikes for the weekend,” Steedly said. “Our campus is big and they want to see as much of it as they can, so this is awesome for them, too.”
Physics freshman Michael Corregosa decided to invest in a Zagster membership after totaling his first bike and walking out of Sbisa Dining Hall to slashed tires on his second bike.
“It’s just very convenient,” Corregosa said. “These bikes ride really nicely, and they’re very fun to ride. Plus they are in all of the main places I go — the MSC, close to my classes like Blocker. So it’s just really convenient to get to a relative location quickly then walk the rest of the way there. Plus with a Zagster bike you don’t have to worry about someone stealing or messing with your bike.”
Transportation Services and Zagster will be hosting a launch event on Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those interested in the bike share program will have the opportunity to ride Zagster bikes, ask Transportation Services and Zagster questions and receive giveaways.