After about two years of planning and preparation, Penn State launched last week a bike-share program that offers students, faculty, staff and visitors the option to rent a bike for travel around campus.
Eighty-five Zagster bikes are available 24 hours a day for program members or hourly users to access from 17 bike-share stations around campus.
Zagster is a national company founded by two Drexel University graduates in 2007. The company builds the bikes and operates the program from its home base in Cambridge, Mass.
In spring 2015, the university conducted a campuswide survey to gauge the interest in a bike-share program. Based on the “overwhelmingly” positive results, the university began the process of hiring a vendor and after about one year, Zagster was awarded the contract, according to Jason Thomas, special projects coordinator for Penn State Transportation Services.
To access the bikes, users download the Zagster app. Each bike is assigned a code, which can be entered into the app to unlock the bike from the Zagster bike station. Once free from the lock, the bike can be used for up to one hour. If the rider decides to keep the bike for a longer period of time, the charge is $3 per hour.
It’s healthy, it’s fun and it’s a nice alternative to being in a vehicle.
Jason Thomas, special projects coordinator for Penn State Transportation Services
Each bike is equipped with a retractable and lockable cable that allows riders to park the bike at a location that does not have a Zagster station.
Memberships to the program are available, but not mandatory. A non-member can unlock through the app and use a bike for $3 per hour.
In the development process of the program, Transportation Services reached out to universities in colder climates that use Zagster. Depending on the severity of the winter, the service can be suspended, but the university has not made any decisions on how it will handle the issue, Thomas said.
The University Park Undergraduate Association contributed financially to help Transportation Services launch the program, Thomas said. The partnership reduced the membership price for students, which is $25 per year.
Faculty and staff can become members for $35 per year and regular campus visitors can join for $50 per year, according to Thomas. Memberships can be purchased at zagster.com/psu.
“Overall, we feel that this is a great way to provide transportation around campus,” Thomas said. “It’s healthy, it’s fun and it’s a nice alternative to being in a vehicle.”