Pronto is offering free rides this Friday, hoping to get more people to use the bike-sharing program after the city took it over last month.
Pronto is offering free rides on Friday, as it tries to boost lagging membership and ridership.
The city of Seattle acquired the bike-rental program in April, and has been working with its contractor Motivate to market the program since then.
Earlier this month, the program held Pronto Week, and offered reduced prices on annual memberships.
That membership drive saw some success: 124 people signed up for annual passes. So far, a total of 173 people have bought annual Pronto memberships this month, bringing active membership up to 1,935 people, according to figures provided by the Seattle Department of Transportation.
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The program has struggled to keep members. During its first year of operation, more than 3,300 people had signed up for Pronto, according to city records. But by the time the city took over, membership had fallen dramatically as the city council debated whether Seattle should acquire the financially-troubled program of 54 stations and about 500 bikes.
Ridership has also dipped. During the weeklong Pronto Week event this month, riders took an average of 373 rides each day, which amounts to fewer than one trip per bike. During the previous Pronto Week, held in April 2015, riders took an average of 499 trips a day.
The free ride day comes at an important time for Pronto, as Seattleites reacquaint themselves with sunshine and warm days.
Ridership peaked last summer, and about 47 percent of the year’s rides came in the four months from May through August.
Pronto’s promotion coincides with Cascade Bicycle Club’s Bike Everywhere Day, which takes place, fittingly, during Bike Everywhere Month.
Those interested in taking Pronto for a free spin can sign up on the organization’s website. Riders must provide a credit or debit card, as with any short-term rental, and will be charged for trips longer than 30 minutes.
The free-ride pass will last for 24 hours and people can take as many rides as they would like, so long as bikes are checked out for less than half an hour at a time.