City Councilmembers Lisa Herbold and Mike O’Brien will present competing plans in a Tuesday committee meeting on Pronto’s fate.
Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold on Monday previewed a competing plan for the Pronto bike-sharing program — letting it go.
Herbold’s plan would reject the Seattle Department of Transportation’s request to buy Pronto for $1.4 million, and use $4 million of additional funding promised to that program for other biking and pedestrian improvements, she said in a council briefing Monday morning.
Under Herbold’s proposal, the council would try to sell Pronto’s assets to repay most of a $1 million grant that the city would owe back to the federal government. The proposal would encourage private companies to pursue bike share in Seattle as they have in New York City and San Francisco.
“You don’t know what’s possible until you ask,” she in an interview Monday afternoon, noting that current Pronto contractor Motivate operates a private bike-sharing program in San Francisco.
“I just feel like we have an obligation to use the finite public resources we have to maintain the infrastructure we have … and expand,” she said. “When the council last year earmarked the money (for Pronto), it was earmarked for expansion, not bailout. We’re in a different place and it raises different questions.”
Herbold will introduce amendments to that effect in a 2 p.m. Tuesday transportation committee meeting. Her proposal will compete with Mike O’Brien’s plan for the beleaguered Pronto system. O’Brien said in Monday’s briefing that he would support Pronto’s purchase and expansion with amendments that would give the council more oversight of the program. The amendments would require council input and approval before SDOT inks an expansion contract and give the council input on changing how the existing system operates.
O’Brien also would like monthly reports from SDOT on how Pronto is working and separate accounting for Pronto, so the system would have “clear, transparent record keeping,” he said.
During the most recent committee meeting on Pronto, O’Brien expressed frustration that SDOT had used $305,000 of street-use fees to pay Pronto’s third-party contractor, Motivate, without notifying the council.
SDOT head Scott Kubly said the agency paid Motivate to keep the service available without interruption.
In January, City Council documents showed Pronto was teetering and needed the city’s $1.4 million purchase to stay in operation. SDOT asked the City Council for funding to buy Pronto, and plans to ask later for $5 million more to expand the program and possibly add electric bikes to its fleet.