The federal government will not contribute $10 million to help the City of Seattle expand the Pronto Cycle Share, a failing bicycle network company. Despite the loss of support, the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is proceeding with its plans to take over the Pronto program—again, a failing company.
When Pronto opened a year ago, ridership hovered around an embarrassing one trip per bike per day. SDOT has excused the sad number as a “seasonal pattern” and claimed it improved to two or three trips per bicycle this summer—as if that two or three trips is some kind of improvement.
The city planned to use the federal grant to expand the failing bike-share system to a whopping 42 square miles from the current five-square-mile area running from the University District to downtown. Additionally, the city wanted to add electric bikes for riders going up hill.
By next year, the city wanted to expand the failing company from 500 bikes for 50 stations to 2,500 bikes and 250 stations. Mayor Ed Murray’s budget proposal called for a $5 million city contribution to purchase the 2,000 additional bikes.
It’s unclear if the City of Seattle will change its plans for the bike company takeover. It is clear that this really bad idea is taking money from legitimate services that actually need more funding.