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Lyft and SF partner to offer free bikeshare for SFSU students

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Ford Gobike and San Francisco are teaming up to provide free bikeshare to San Francisco State University students. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

About 550 San Francisco State University students — including some of its poorest — will soon be able to rent Ford GoBike bicycles for free.

The City will pay for the first two years of the pilot program to provide free bikeshare, but afterward Lyft will pay for it, the company told the San Francisco Examiner.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority board approved $56,000 for the program at its regular meeting Tuesday, on the condition that Lyft commit to regularly funding the program in the future at the same amount.

Previously, Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who chairs the SFCTA board, blocked city funding for the bike rental giveaway, arguing that Lyft is a multi-billion dollar company with pockets deep enough to help impoverished students.

Ultimately, this month the SFCTA gave Lyft a deadline of June 1, 2019 to commit to fund the free bike program.

Responding to inquiries from the Examiner this week, Lyft has confirmed it now plans to do exactly that.

“Yes, Lyft is committed to funding for transportation equity and looks forward to working with partners to support this program in the future,” Lyft spokesperson Lauren Alexander said.

SEE RELATED: Free bike rental program for SF State students threatened after Lyft buys bikeshare company

Ford GoBike docks dot San Francisco’s eastern neighborhoods but have yet to penetrate far into the west side, where SFSU’s main campus lies. But transportation authority planners said Tuesday that in “early 2019” two new Ford GoBike docks would bring the rentable bikes to the south west corner of San Francisco near SFSU. The two-year pilot program would offer “Bikeshare for All” memberships to students, which are the low-income memberships.

Earlier this year, SFSU asked the transportation authority for $56,000 to help fund a two-year pilot program to provide free bikeshare to 400 Federal Pell Grant-eligible students, who qualify for the grants by falling into low-income brackets, and for 150 non-Pell Grant-eligible students. About 300 single month passes will also be provided to some students.

Peskin, who has often been painted as a hardliner in his call for tougher regulations of ride-hail companies like Lyft, ultimately voted to approve the funding for free bikeshare on Tuesday.

He told the Examiner it’s part of a kindlier, friendlier relationship between City Hall and the once pink-mustachioed company.

“We’re all trying to get along,” he said. “We’re showing good faith.”

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