— sean (@seanpants) October 29, 2014
The 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.
$5 million in Mayor Ed Murray’s recently released budget is still slated to go towards expanding the network, doubling the number of stations to around 100. Adding 100 stations would expand the system to the Central District, International District, Beacon Hill, Fremont, and Green Lake.
SDOT announced plans to take over Pronto a year after the nonprofit running it rolled out the system in October 2014. SDOT is currently negotiating with the Puget Sound Bike Share to acquire the system at zero cost, according to a SDOT spokesperson. The for-profit operator Motivate would likely stay on to manage the system for the City.
Seattle has an unusual hybrid model compared to other bike share programs across the country. In most big cities, the local government owns the system and contracts with a for-profit operator to run it. In smaller markets, bike shares are typically run by nonprofits with no direct city involvement.
Pronto, like many other bike share programs, largely serves dense, economically advantaged areas like downtown and Capitol Hill where businesses are willing to sponsor stations and bike service. According to the SDOT, a city takeover could help buck that trend. It could also lead to a more rapid rollout of electric bikes, a change that advocates say would expand the utility of the system and make the bikes an option for a wider diversity of riders.
One thing to note: The system is resilient! After its station was nearly wiped out by Tuesday’s rogue garbage truck incident, Pronto officials reported that seven docks at the Bellevue/Pine location remained functional.
— Kristin (@kf2f2f) October 27, 2015