Mayor kills Seattle’s public bike share

By the end of March, Seattle will no longer have a public bike share system. Mayor Ed Murray announced Friday night the city will take $3 million set aside to replace its struggling Pronto system and instead put the money to work making bicycling and pedestrian improvements across Seattle. The $4.4 million budget required to start the system in 2014 and the $1.4 million approved last March to keep the system afloat? Poof.

“This shift in funding priorities allows us to make critical bicycle and pedestrian improvements — especially for students walking and biking to school,” Murray said in a statement. “While I remain optimistic about the future of bike share in Seattle, today we are focusing on a set of existing projects that will help build a safe, world-class bicycle and pedestrian network.” Continue reading

City Council approves Seattle bike share’s public takeover

Seattle’s bike share network will come under City of Seattle ownership with an eye on expansion as City Council members voted 7-2 Monday to save the indebted system.

After tacking on amendments to improve bike lane infrastructure downtown and ensure that bike sharing reaches low income neighborhoods, City Council members approved a plan for the City to takeover Pronto with a $1.4 million investment while reserving another $3.6 million for future expansion of the system next year under a new operator contract.

Council member Mike O’Brien, who ushered the buyout plan through the transportation committee last month, said the system was worth saving as thousands of riders were already relying on it as a mode of transportation.

The vote comes after months of debate on what to do with the insolvent bike share system owned by the nonprofit Puget Sound Bike Share. While the $5 million was already earmarked for Pronto last year, the systems financial shortcomings weren’t known outside the bowels of City Hall. The system would have ceased operations on March 31st without the city investment.

By spending $1.4 million, Seattle will immediately acquire 26 stations from Pronto as well as all remaining hard assets. The City already owns 28 stations after purchasing them with a federal grant. The City would also seek out a new operating contract as Pronto’s current contract with the company Motivate ends at the end of 2016. Motivate could still submit a bid to continue running the service. Continue reading

City Council to consider $1.4 million plan to keep Seattle’s bike share rolling

Capitol Hill’s Pronto stations — we looked at the most-utilized Capitol Hill bike share stops here

In October, CHS reported on the City of Seattle’s plans to take over the Pronto bike share system to stabilize an underused system, expand it to more of the city, and transform the fleet into a new generation of bikes. Basically, to keep pace with cities from New York to Denver. All that has changed since then are the headlines.

Well… and, maybe, the timeline and price tag.

The City Council’s transportation committee Tuesday will take up the transition of the system from the third-party nonprofit that launched Seattle’s bike share and the $1.4 million needed to pull it out of the red, avoid paying money to the feds, and put the system on track for a 2017 expansion.

The City's planned timeline:  1. 2017 launch 2. Expanded service area w/ SE Seattle 3. Current scenario based on 100 stations 4. Open to Gen 4.0 electric. May sell or retrofit existing 5. Can recover 100% of op ex from sponsors & users, 2018

The City’s planned timeline:
1. 2017 launch
2. Expanded service area w/ SE Seattle
3. Current scenario based on 100
stations
4. Open to Gen 4.0 electric. May sell or retrofit existing
5. Can recover 100% of op ex from sponsors & users, 2018

The early draft of how the network might expand

The early draft of how the network might expand

Here’s how City Council staff describe the plan:

Puget Sound Bike Share, doing business as Pronto, launched a bike share system in Seattle in October, 2014. Due to ongoing operating losses brought on by debt service payments and operating overhead, the system is currently insolvent. The City seeks to purchase assets from Pronto and contract directly with the operator to keep bike share operational in Seattle. SDOT needs a portion of the funds allocated in the 2016 budget for bike share to purchase the assets.

Where would the money come from? $5 million in Seattle’s 2016 budget was approved for expanding the Pronto network. A federal TIGER grant, meanwhile, has allowed the city to purchase 28 of the system’s 54 stations.

Hold on there, CHS. Why spend money on an “insolvent” system? First, the City Council analysis explains what happened: Continue reading

Seattle loses out on federal cash to expand bike share

Screen-Shot-2015-10-06-at-11.16.17-PMThe Seattle Department of Transportation has lost out on a federal TIGER grant that would have allowed the system operated by Pronto Cycle Share to expand into many more neighborhoods, including Ballard and West Seattle.

The Seattle Bike Blog reports the feds passed up the opportunity to back the Seattle proposal requesting $25 million in federal funds to help fill the $15 million funding gap in the Northgate bike/walk bridge project and to improve connectivity to transit by investing $10 million in a dramatically expanded bike share system.

The city would have matched this with $5 million of its own, while Pronto’s private operator Motivate would pitch in $3 million. With the TIGER grant, the system could have added 250 stations.

Only 14% of Seattle residents currently live within close walking distance of a bike share station. Under the expansion plan, 62% of residents would live within reach.

Earlier this month, SDOT officials told CHS that even if they lost out on the grant they would move forward with plans to take over the system with an eye on a more modest expansion in 2017. Continue reading

A look at the top Pronto stations on Capitol Hill — Plus, bike share weather trends

Here's a look at daily trends for ridership compared to temperature fluctuations and rainfall in Seattle from October through February through the full Pronto system. You'll ride in the rain -- but not as much as you'll ride in the sun, of course (Source: Pronto/ Image: CHS)

Here’s a look at daily trends for ridership compared to temperature fluctuations and rainfall in Seattle from October through February through the full Pronto system. You’ll ride in the rain — but not as much as you’ll ride in the sun, of course (Source: Pronto/ Image: CHS)

You can suggest new Pronto stations in the CD and around the city here

You can suggest new Pronto stations in the CD and around the city here

 Above: Images from Pronto’s “#VitaminP” promotion

The last time CHS looked at ridership totals for Seattle’s new bike share, Pronto was but one week old. Preparing for a soggy Seattle winter, we figured it wouldn’t be worth revisiting the stats until summer — also known as September. But thanks to global warming the apocalypse our ever-changing environment, we’ve been inspired by Seattle’s sunny days to dip into the usage tracking for the system to find out where on Capitol Hill customers of the non-profit bike share are riding, how Hill totals compare to usage around the city, and, yes, how ridership holds up when things are cold and soaking.

We also asked director Holly Houser for an update on plans to bring Pronto into the Central District and Yesler Terrace thanks to a $1 million injection from the feds and City Hall. She didn’t take the bait telling CHS there isn’t yet “a timeline” for the expansion.

The datasets for Pronto’s usage were an easier matter. Houser says they are working on getting the statistics into the publicly available data.seattle.gov site but, in the meantime, provided CHS with a few views of the activity. Continue reading