Hubway Flubs the Way it Is Designed

Boston’s new bike sharing service New Balance Hubway is handsomely but not efficiently designed. Can you tell how much the daily rate is?

The typographic hierarchy forces the reader to conclude that $5 is the day rate for “casual” use. The plus (+) is not obvious enough to connect the left to right pricing box. And even if the reader’s eye moves from $5 to “Casual Usage Fees,” it is still confusing. In fact, the daily rate is $100.

I’ve spoken to a few riders who were so confused, thinking that the fee was $12 for up to three days, they kept their bikes for that timeframe. Cost = $300. Bad design costs money.

7 thoughts on “Hubway Flubs the Way it Is Designed

  1. Steven Bannister

    As someone who’s actually used HUBWAY, I agree – the pricing is VERY confusing. And it seems to get more expensive (the hourly RATE, that is) the longer you ride it – which is very counterintuitive. Smart young people with agile brains might have no problem with this – but I still can’t figure it out. For a system that was designed for use by the general public, it should definitely be made much clearer. 
    To KM: Sorry, but this IS a bike rental and NOT a “bike share.” Sharing is free and HUBWAY is certainly NOT free. 

  2. Jed

    After 24 hours Hubway deems a bike to be lost/stolen, attempts to reach out to customers based on the phone number associated with their credit card, and then charges the customer $1000.  Given that I’ve followed almost all the news regarding Hubway, official and otherwise, and never heard of a lost/stolen bike, I find it incredibly hard to believe that the author (who probably lives in NY) found multiple users that have gone through this process within the first 12 days of the program.
    That false hyperbole aside, this piece is poorly written with unsupported conclusions such as “forces the reader to conclude that $5 is the day rate for “casual” use,” when, even in the conveniently rainy photo, it’s clear the word use is associated with the escalating cost system, while $5 is associated with the word membership.
    Furthermore, statements like “even if the reader’s eye moves” completely ignore the fact that these kiosks are roughly 14 inches wide and that most people who would ride a bike have good enough eye sight to take it all in at once.

  3. jones

    I have to agree with KM, the idea is point to point commuting. The city of Boston is perfect for this being so small. If you check the website, Facebook and twitter they even encourage renting a bike from a shop for all day use and even suggest a local tour company. It will take a bit of time for people to wrap their heads around but it is a great option for us city dwellers….

  4. KM

    Same pay structure as Montreal or London’s bike share systems, doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand them.  Also, it’s a bike SHARE, not a bike RENTAL… the whole point is to supplement mass transit for short commutes, not to jaunt around the country side.

  5. Joe

    Reminds me of my Verizon bill (Fios and phone). Except Verizon is this times fifty in confusion, mystery charges, strange layout, type too small, etc.
    And my Amex, Visa, power, water, etc. bills. I filled out something recently that was the take all winner of worst of the worst. But I can’t remember what it was… I think I deliberatly blocked the typographic nightmare horror out of my mind so I could go on living.

  6. Dani B.

    I really don’t take pity on those who are charged usage fees. One of the screens you see before you are allowed to rent a bike asks if you understand that rides over 30 minutes incur usage fees on top of the membership fee. Every single user has to push “yes” before they are allowed to proceed. The fault is in people who don’t bother reading.