I am a student mechanic for a campus bike shop in Pittsburgh. We are starting a new bike share program to rent bikes by the semester/year to our students. We have a lot of interest gaining for this endeavor, from short-term international students, from commuters, from activists, environmentalists, poor students and out-of-state students (who left their bike at home).
We are purchasing bikes from a bike recycle program which I am helping to fix up and make road worthy. The school is paying for 10 bikes, $50 per bike, to start up the program. The school is also paying for U-locks, front and back lights, small tool repair kits, and helmets (S/M/L). We have a bike shop with all the tools to take a bike part and repair minor pieces, like inner tubes and brake/shifter cables, and will outfit it with more consumer items as popularity grows (seat covers etc.).
The idea is to give a bike to a student, as well as a lock and lights (purchase of a tool kit and helmet from us is optional, however a helmet with receipt is required), sign them up to the bike registry (to help with theft and bike identity), and orient them with the local bike trails, safe commuting routes, and local community. The whole idea it to encourage a bike community within the campus. I will have bikes to fix, cyclists to teach, and less students will be driving or using local transit.
The only issue is we don't know what to charge for renting bikes. It will cost us (the campus) $150 to outfit a person with a bike and all the materials at first, but afterwards only about $50-75 per new person (same bike, new helmet, maybe new lights). What prices should we be charging students to rent a bike for? How much should cover the cost, and how much should be for a deposit (incentive to bring the bike back with minimal damage)?
As a bike share program we want to be competitive. It costs about $200-300 for a brand new bike, or $100 or a crappy Wal-Mart bike, but we also want to cover the costs of the program. I was thinking of $50 deposit, $50 cover charge per semester, or $50 deposit, $100 charge per year (and less if returning customer). However, the sustainability director thinks we should charge more.