Seattle bike share program struggling, faces uncertain future
SEATTLE — A bike share program designed to get more cyclists on the streets is struggling and faces an uncertain future. A city council committee will meet Tuesday to discuss spending $1.4 million to save the Pronto Cycle Share program. According to city council documents, the program is now “insolvent” and “will not be operational in early 2016 without intervention.”
“Government should spend as much money as it takes. Hike our taxes through the roof and make everything as good as it can be,” said Taylor Kendall, who uses the bike share program.
Kendall signed up when it launched in October 2014. The bike share system includes hundreds of bikes and 54 stations across Seattle.
“Having to go downtown and take a bus downtown it`s horrible. It is cheaper than an Uber,” said Kendall. “I think I had 135 rides last year so it was less than 50 cents a ride.’
Under the proposal, the city would purchase 26 stations and assets from Pronto. The city already owns 28 of the stations which were purchased with grant money. City council documents revealed the program has substantial overhead costs and had insufficient funds to purchase the initial equipment leading to ongoing debt services payments.
“I prefer to ride my own bike, but I like the idea of supporting bikers that kind of thing, but I don`t think it`s practical,” said one cyclist who questioned the future of the program.
If the plan moves forward, the Seattle Department of Transportation intends to contract with a company to operate the system in 2016. Later in the year, there could also be a proposal to expand the system in 2017.