City officials are negotiating with a new bike-share company that provides electric bikes.
Goodbye, Pronto. Hello, uncertainty.
The Seattle City Council approved a new two-year budget Monday and set an end date for the city’s troubled bike-share system.
Pronto’s 2017 operating funds were sliced in half to $300,000, and the program won’t be able to continue past March 31, the council decided.
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The council must approve the Seattle Department of Transportation’s (SDOT) $5 million expansion plan before funds are released.
SDOT officials were encouraged by the council’s actions.
“We take the council decisions as a very positive step. They could have reappropriated the capital funding. They didn’t. And they didn’t have to provide funding for Pronto operations and they did,” said Andrew Glass Hastings, SDOT’s director of transit and mobility. “That allows us to keep the system running. It allows for continuity for existing customers.”
He said SDOT plans to begin talks with the council in January about expansion and the Bewegen contract.
By the end of March, Glass Hastings said he expects to have “certainty toward 2017 expansion … or if council doesn’t decide to greenlight the expansion, we have certainty about the future of bike share in that sense.”
Pronto’s operator, Motivate, will remain at the helm through March. Demi Allen, the company’s general manager in Seattle, said the company would defer to SDOT but planned to continue operating and wanted to facilitate a smooth transition as Pronto sunsets.
Glass Hastings said $300,000 was enough funding to keep Pronto running through March 31 but said the city could pull the plug sooner, too.
City officials are trying to sell Pronto’s equipment.
If the City Council approves expansion, SDOT officials hope to put a new system in place next summer. That will likely leave Seattle without a bike-share system for a few months, at least. Glass Hastings said he was not worried about a gap in bike-share service.
“To shut down Pronto, have a gap focused on expansion and then relaunch next summer — that’s a pretty good situation to be in,” he said.