Seattle’s Transportation Department has already spent $305,000 to tide over Pronto, something that didn’t “sit right” with Councilmember Mike O’Brien.
City council members asked the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) on Friday to continue working on its pitch to buy the beleaguered and underused Pronto bike-sharing system, which ran out of money last year.
Several members of the council expressed support to keep the bike-sharing network, but asked for more information before spending $1.4 million to buy Pronto’s assets.
“The issue for me is not should we have bike share. I’m totally sold,” said Councilmember Tim Burgess. “For me, it’s about the financial risks to the city.”
SDOT already has spent $305,000 on Pronto, something Councilmember Mike O’Brien said he was disappointed to learn. The money was used to tide over the nonprofit running Pronto from December to February.
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SDOT did not notify the City Council before spending money from its street-use fund to prop up Pronto. O’Brien said that didn’t “sit right” with him.
“It would have been good to have this conversation three months ago,” O’Brien said.
O’Brien said if he were to commit to funding Pronto’s takeover, he would like to see SDOT’s plan on how to improve Pronto immediately. He said that could involve moving existing stations.
“I really want to see a 2016 operating system that’s great. I want to see this work,” he said.
If the city purchases Pronto, SDOT wants to spend an additional $5 million to add more stations and bikes (possibly some electric). SDOT Director Scott Kubly said it would take about six months to award a contract for expansion, and another six months for the contractor to build a bigger network.
O’Brien, the head of the transportation committee, plans a vote on purchasing Pronto at the committee’s March 1 meeting.