Bike sharing programs are an elegantly simple answer to urban gridlock, air pollution, and healthier lifestyles. Keeping hundreds of bicycles tuned up, at the right stations and in the right numbers? Elegant, maybe, but not so simple.
Bicycle Transit Systems (Bicycle Transit) established and manages bike share programs in Philadelphia, Oklahoma City, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. Hundreds of its trademark BCycleTM bicycles are available to urban dwellers for short-term rentals through stations in business areas and residential neighborhoods located throughout its home cities.
The logistics of keeping hundreds of bicycles maintained and in the right locations demands a sprawling information technology (IT) infrastructure that extends from Bicycle Transit’s facilities to its bike rental stations and every individual bicycle. Bicycle Transit facilities need Internet access for email, collecting data from bicycle stations, and participating in a national bicycle transportation data exchange. Bicycle Transit launched its Los Angeles service with the help of HughesNet Business Internet and now it provides insurance against network outages.
“There’s a heavy IT component to what we do,” said Tim McGraw, director of information technology at Bicycle Transit and, like most of the executive team, a cycling enthusiast. “We need reliable network connectivity within and outside our offices to keep bikes in the stations, ensure that stations don’t get too full or empty, and map where the bikes go through real-time tracking. Broadband access is essential for tying together our operations.”
Bicycle Transit runs its maintenance and business operations through a combination of warehouse and office facilities in each of its cities. Crews assemble and maintain bikes while the business staff processes transactions, provides customer service, and collects gigabytes of data from stations and individual bicycles.
When Bicycle Transit expanded into Los Angeles in 2016, McGraw realized that the local broadband provider would not be able to connect the company’s new 1,000-bicycle facility to the Internet in time for the service’s planned launch.
“It’s not that common in Los Angeles to have buildings wired for broadband, and much of what’s marketed as broadband is actually supercharged DSL and not true broadband. So when we found our property, we had to order a half-mile connection to the fiber optic network,” Tim said. “Our ISP did everything they could to expedite our request, but in the very busy time preparing for our launch, it was clear we needed additional Internet connectivity as quickly as humanly possible.”
Tim contacted Hughes, which was able to connect the Los Angeles facility to HughesNet in an afternoon. Bicycle Transit launched Los Angeles Metro Bike Share on schedule, with no network glitches.
Bicycle Transit Systems
“HughesNet got us through our ramp-up phase and exceeded our expectations,” Tim said. “The contractor who installed the service was very knowledgeable and showed up ahead of schedule. The bandwidth was stable and got us up and working fast.”
Internet connectivity is crucial to Bicycle Transit’s operations. HughesNet not only got Bicycle Transit through its ramp- up phase, but now serves as a much needed and reliable backup. HughesNet’s reliability and constant availability made it a natural choice.