GREENbike offers discount pass for low-income residents

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) William Deering rides a GREENbike down 300 East in Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. The nonprofit announced a new program giving low-income residents a deep discount on annual passes as a way to help them cope with the high cost of transportation.

Salt Lake City’s GREENbike bicycle share has launched a new discount program to get more residents pedaling.

The nonprofit announced its Go Pass Thursday, which reduces its annual fee from $75 to $5 for those earning 200% or less of the federal poverty guidelines. That’s about $25,500 a year for a single person or $52,400 for a family of four. The Go Pass discount is also available to people receiving food assistance, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

At a news conference, GREENbike executive director Ben Bolte said low-income Utah families spend more than one-third of their household budgets on transportation.

“It’s literally their single largest expense behind housing,” Bolte said. “So as a local nonprofit, I feel we have a responsibility to make it easier for all members of our community to have access to affordable, clean, green transportation.”

Qualifying residents can purchase a Go Pass at greenbikeslc.org/gopass. The card allows unlimited 60-minute rides for a full year. Those wishing to pay with cash can visit GREENbike’s office at 150 S. State Street from 12 p.m.-4 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays or schedule an appointment by calling (801) 613-7245.

Kathy Bray of Volunteers for America, one of GREENbike’s partner organizations, said the Go Pass program will help homeless youth connect with employment.

“They have an answer as to ‘how do I get there?‘” Bray said.

The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated health disparities among low-income and minority populations, said SelectHealth CEO Pat Richards. The public health crisis also hit the brakes on public transportation. Utah Transit Authority cut services after use dropped by 65%, although it plans to restore most of the pre-pandemic services on Aug. 23.

GREENbike, too, saw ridership deflate.

“As of today, our ridership is 25% below where it was last year,” said GREENbike marketing and engagement manager Katie Mykleseth. “We attribute this to fewer people commuting or visiting downtown.”

Annual pass sales are up compared to 2019, however, and GREENbike saw a 39% boost in ridership earlier this year, before the pandemic forced business closures in mid-March.

Salt Lake City Council member Amy Fowler offered words of support for the discount bike share program.

“Salt Lake City ... is committed to our air quality, our transportation and equity,” Fowler said. “With this $5 Go Pass, we are supporting and seeing that we can address all of those things.”

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