Murray calls new SDOT director ‘visionary,’ ‘renaissance man;’ but questions of bikeshare connections remain
SEATTLE — A “transportation visionary” has been called on to head Seattle’s Department of Transportation, Mayor Ed Murray announced Wednesday, even as questions surrounding his relationship with a popular bikeshare company remained.
Murray announced Scott Kubly as his nominee for director of SDOT at a press conference.
Kubly formerly worked as the deputy commissioner for the City of Chicago Department of Transportation and was the associate director of the District of Columbia Department of Transportation. He is currently acting director at Alta Bicycle Share; the largest bikeshare operator in North America, and the company set to run Seattle’s bikeshare program.
Kubly will start on July 28 and will earn an annual salary of $180,000 if his appointment is approved by the Seattle City Council.
Murray said Kubly has a proven track record, and called him a “transportation renaissance man.”
“Scott is the transportation leader this city needs to take us to the next level in creating more livable, walking communities,” Murray said.
Murray said Kubly will lead his administration’s efforts to merge the city’s many various transportation modal planning efforts into a single comprehensive, multi-modal transportation system for Seattle. The Director of Transportation reports to the Mayor and has management oversight of more than 750 employees and an annual operating budget of more than $400 million.
But Kubly’s connections with the bikeshare company he currently directs raised some eyebrows Wednesday.
Alta announced an agreement with Seattle in April to run the city’s projected bikeshare program. The first phase of the launch is expected to deploy around 500 bikes at 50 stations around the city.
Alta was contracted with both Chicago and Washington D.C. — Kubly’s former employers — to run those cities’ bikeshare programs. According to the Chicago Sun Times, Chicago held nearly $2.1 million from the embattled company Alta after frequent delays in the roll out of the program. And as the roll out suffered, Kubly left his job at CDOT to work in a “contract relationship” with Alta.
The Sun Times article in January raised questions about the connection between Kubly and Alta’s contract with the city of Chicago:
Kubly could not be reached for comment, but his work with Alta is raising eyebrows.
Two years ago, a rival bidder charged that the Chicago bid process was greased for Alta, a company that once hired newly-departed Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein as a consultant.
The rival bidder charged that Klein and Kubly had conversations with Birk after the city issued its request for proposals, but before bids were due, in violation of city procurement rules.
Kubly worked for Alta in January, Alta agreed to a deal with the Seattle in April, and Kubly was nominated to SDOT”s top position by the mayor in July.
Local bike advocates applauded the mayor’s nomination, with the Cascade Bicycle Club saying Kubly “has proven himself time and again to be an ally of bicycling, walking and transit.”
City council members must still confirm Kubly’s nomination.