Bain Capital and Bike Locker Economics

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I use a Community Transit bus from Snohomish County to downtown Seattle most weekdays. I live about 4.5 miles from the bus stop, and as the weather's been improving and my bicycle's been recently tuned, I've thought about how I could manage riding my bike.

At the park-and-ride I use there's six bike lockers. They are a few feet tall and a couple wide and they fully enclose the bikes, with the doors secured by padlock. I thought this would be a nice place to put my bike, but with limited resources, I didn't think one would be available. I looked into it more, and my chances were decreased further: to get one, there's only a one-time deposit of $50, and you keep it as long as you like. I emailed Community Transit and got my name on a waiting list.

So a couple of weeks ago, I was thinking that I'd never seen anyone use the lockers that I could remember, and there's probably people who get the lockers but rarely use them, because there's no disincentive to holding onto it without using it. I thought that maybe they should charge a quarterly fee for use, just to encourage people to give up a locker they aren't using.

So last week, I got email that a locker opened up, and oh, by the way, they might start charging $5 a month just to make people more likely to not hold on to lockers they aren't using. The letter noted that if I wanted to not participate because of the extra fee, that would be fine; my response is that -- while of course I want that money -- it's the right thing to do, and I'm glad they are doing it.

It reminds me a little bit of an Obama anti-Romney ad I saw this morning bashing Mitt Romney because he tried to maximize profits, and fired workers. But ... maybe it was the right thing to do. Maximizing profits is good. Firing workers is often a good and necessary part of that. I was fired a couple of years ago, with a bunch of other guys who had been around more than 10 years, because the company thought I cost it too much money. Maybe they were right. I was never once angry at the company or the people who made the decision, though I was disappointed in it, because I understand that they thought it was in the company's best interests: not just the shareholders, but the other employees and customers, too.

I don't want to be fired (erm, "laid off") or pay extra fees, but I do want organizations to do economically right things, and I won't selfishly hold it against them when they do.

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on May 14, 2012 7:17 AM.

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