PROVIDENCE — Less than a month after jacking up prices, the owners of Jump Bikes on Thursday announced they are scaling back those increases — but not back to the original rental prices for the red electric bicycles.
The 1,100 Jump bikes in Providence will still be more expensive than they had been when the bike-share program first came to the city in September 2018. But they won’t be as expensive as they’ve been since Jump prices jumped on July 15.
Beginning Monday, the bikes will cost $3 for the first 20 minutes, then 15 cents per minute. That comes to $3 for 15 minutes, $4.50 for 30 minutes, and $9 for an hour.
The original price was $2 for 15 minutes, $2 for 30 minutes, and $4.10 for an hour. Since mid-July, the price has been $4.50 for 15 minutes, $9 for 30 minutes and $18 for an hour.
“We listened to the concerns of the mayor and the entire Providence community, and we decided to cut the cost of an average ride in half from our current price,” Jump Bikes said in a statement. “The changes ensure Providence residents can take advantage of bikes while also allowing us to triple our coverage area and provide reliable service for years to come.”
“As a city, we are committed to providing residents and visitors with convenient and equitable intermodal transportation options,” Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza said. “I’m thankful that Jump took our concerns and those voiced by our communities into consideration to ensure that all residents will be able to continue to affordably enjoy the Jump bikes in Providence.”
In 2017, Providence awarded a five-year contract to Jump Bikes to operate the bike-share program in the city, and Lifespan and Tufts Health Plan became system sponsors.
Jump spokesperson Harry Hartfield emphasized that 80 percent of rides in Providence are under 20 minutes, so the majority of rides will cost $3.
Those taking longer rides can get monthly subscriptions, which cost $20 a month for an hour of riding per day, he said. The subscription program had been “paused temporarily” while it was updated, he said.
Also, reduced-rate “Boost” plans are available for those who qualify, costing $5 for the first year. That plan is available to reduced-fare bus-pass holders and food-stamp recipients, for example.
Jump Bikes, owned by Uber Technologies, said the price hike will help pay for the staff that maintains bikes, and it will allow the company to upgrade bikes and to maintain its expanded coverage area in the city. The new price structure matches that of larger markets such as San Francisco, the company said.
Katherine A. Prevost, an avid cyclist who lives in the city’s Federal Hill neighborhood, said the July price increase probably prompted a lot of complaints and led to fewer paying customers in Providence. She said she has not rented a Jump bike since the price hike, which she said had made the bikes nearly as expensive as Uber or Lyft car rides.
But now Prevost will give Jump another chance. “It gets it back down into the realm of reasonable,” she said. “I would definitely consider using it again. Now, it’s still a bit on the pricey side, but it’s not heinous.”
Sarah Mitchell, chair of the Rhode Island Bicycle Coalition, said she stopped using Jump bikes on a regular basis after the prices went up in July. The price reduction must stem from “the blowback they got from everybody -- not just the City of Providence, but from the people using it,” she said.
Mitchell said she is pleased the price hikes have been scaled back. “It’s certainly a lot easier to stomach,” she said. “But it’s still not as cheap as taking the bus.”