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Seattle’s top transportation official at center of ethics probe involving bike-share program

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SEATTLE -- The city's top transportation official, Scott Kubly, is at the center of an ethics investigation that questions his ties to the bike-sharing Pronto program.

Kubly led Pronto's parent company, Alta Bicycle Share, before being hired by the city of Seattle in 2014.

City Councilman Mike O'Brien said the public should not jump to conclusions, but added that the investigation centers around whether Kubly filed the proper disclosure paperwork and whether he benefited financially from Pronto's service in Seattle.

"I expect all city employees to follow all rules to the letter, and if it turns out Scott hasn't done that, the Ethics and Elections Commission will hold him accountable to that," he said.

Last week, the Seattle City Council voted to spend $1.4 million to save the failing bike-share program, which some say is a waste of money because not enough people are using it. And it turns out that members of the City Council voted to approve the bailout based on ridership numbers there were inaccurate.

The Seattle Department of Transportation, which Kubly is director of, told the City Council that Pronto had 3,000 annual members when, in reality, it only has about 1,900.  That upsets O'Brien. who pushed his colleagues to keep the bike share program up and running.

"I'm mad about that," O'Brien said. "That is not the type of clean, honest, transparent reporting that I expect from our departments for me, as a decision-maker, as a policy-maker, and, frankly, for the public. And I had strong words with Scott yesterday about that."

O'Brien said he does not regret voting in favor of the bailout, but is closely watching ridership numbers moving forward. He said he does not know whether SDOT intentionally lied about the numbers or simply made a mistake.

In a statement, Kubly said he would reserve comment to maintain the integrity of the ethics investigation. He pledged transparency and said he looks forward to making the bike share program successful.