Will the City Council Save Pronto, Seattle's Bike Share Service?

Comments

1
One BIG problem with Pronto is that the bikes are NO FUN to ride, "crappy" is a term one rider used. I cycle in the city regularly, and whenever I have the chance I ask Pronto riders what s/he thinks about the bike. All of them say that the bike itself sucks. That alone will keep people from using the service.
2
@1 I ride the bikes regularly and I enjoy riding them. I am able to get up the hilly sections to 12th Ave from International Station...and from Broadway to 15th...without a problem. They aren't built to pedal up to 30mph, but they're great for going a few miles over our city's terrain.
3
Seattle Times and other city media have indicated Pronto is "failing", which makes the assumption that it needs to be breaking even or making money currently in order to not be a "failure". That's not a very reasonable expectation. Not in the least because no modes of transportation exist without major subsidy (especially driving), but mostly it's not a reasonable expectation because it's not a built-out system, but rather a small experimental launch. Only a tiny part of the city has the Pronto stations. Once a real network exists, ridership will increase at a faster rate than the rate the network expands. This is a known thing. Is it worth the risk of experimenting with a transportation program that might not be self-sustaining after it's built? Of course!: the cost of Pronto is less than the rounding error of our other transportation projects or programs. Let's expand it!
4
Holy Shit who could have predicted this???
5
A most important topic, and a great venue in which to discuss it would be at Seattle's Town Hall tonight at 7:30pm, lower hall, side door, when Ted Rall is there (author of "Snowden") on a book tour for his outstanding graphic nonfiction work titled, Bernie.

Fitting this should take place on the same day the United Nations ruled that WikiLeaks' Julian Assange was being unlawfully detained!

http://www.thelocal.se/20160204/assange-…
6
A bailout for Kubly's company, which he was paid to create in Chicago. Previously, while working for ChiTown's DOT, he got the company the contract even though they came in the highest. Now Seattle will buy them out after failing. Nothing to see here. No journalists are interested.
8

IMHO, this was a bad program from the start: it subtracts sidewalk space just when population growth is zooming, it is aimed at tourists, as your typical cyclist will be using her or his own bike, and most tourists going through here won't wish to deal with the hilly topography.

Add to that the roadwork off-downtown (Western Avenue, etc.) thanks to Christine, the tunnel boring machine formerly known as Big Bertha (in honor of Christine Gregoire) and the world's largest deep bore tunnel, yet another piss-poor transportation decision, brought to us by the Community Development Roundtable!
10
@6
Is that true?
Kubly was involved in both sides?
That does sound a bit sketchy at least.
11
@3 On a fundamental level, Pronto is failing because not enough people are riding the bikes.

If you didn't see the writing on the wall in Ansel's cheerleading job that showed all of critical thinking of a Fox News host, well.. let's just say i'm on some hella I-told-you-so shit.
12
a bike-sharing program is just an expense of being a world-class city.

keep it, make it more popular. ain't hard to figure out how: repeal the helmet law, lower the price, sell access cards to businesses so employees can take the bikes to meetings.
13
A few things Ansel convenientally neglects to mention. In its first year, only 142,800 rides were taken on Pronto. That comes to an average of a mere 391 uses a day. At that, each station made a very pathetic $30 a day. Tell me again why this is worth covering the $1,400,000 short fall? I'd much rather see that million and a half go to buses or some other form of transit. Pronto is DOA.
14
Actually the numbers cited in @13 (low ridership) and the Houser in the story (current fees covering 75% of operating costs) make me pretty optimistic. The level of ridership needed to cover operating costs just isn't going to be that great, so once some improvements are made to bring in more riders it can be run by the city at little to no cost. Get stations set up along the BGT connecting UW to Fremont/Seattle, and increase station density on campus (I know several people who tell me they'd join to save time on short intra-campus trips if the stations were located in such a way that they'd actually save time) and you'll do a lot for ridership with a fairly modest increase in stations, I suspect.

The patient has been neglected and isn't well, but some promising cures are available, and they're not particularly expensive.
15
@13

Never mind transit, there are parts of this city (not parts served by Pronto, of course) that don't yet have sidewalks, curbs, or storm drains.

Maybe we should finish building the city's basic infrastructure before we try to build out tertiary transportation networks on it?
16
The entire Seattle bike share system costs $1.4 million to purchase.


Yes, Ansel, but how much does it cost to run?
17
Ah, found it here.

Pronto has a projected operating cost of $2,081,545 in 2015. The person who put the presentation together seems to think the city will magically spend zero dollars in overhead to operate the system (and pick up zero percent of Pronto's debt load somehow, maybe by just ignoring the fact that all of the equipment they're talking about buying is listed as collateral in Pronto's loan agreements), for a sunny projected expenditure of $1,391545 to operate the system in 2016.

I dunno, I think $1.4 million could probably buy at least a few sidewalks and curbs for the city's less-white, less-white-collar neighborhoods...
18
The city should not get involved with running a private business. It failed to secure the federal funds in the Tiger grant and now it's screwed. Like SDOT doesn't have enough problems...
19
It's the hills, dummy. What a colossal waste of time and resources which could've been avoided had we been intellectually honest about the fact that Seattle will never be a biking city. There will be diehards, but that's it.
20
"We have no money for __(kids)__(cops)__(homeless)__(bike lanes)__(etc)____. But anyway, let's go ahead and keep funding a failed bike program." -Most Seattleites, probably.
21
Herz loses all his journalistic sense and skepticism when it's a cause like this that he desperately wants to succeed. His boosterism has been downright embarrassing. Remember the old Slog sobrique "stupid fucking credulous hack?"
22
I've used the bike share systems in Paris and London, and the reason I did was because I could sign up on the spot by just using a credit card and the cost for a few quick trips was modest. It has a threshold that is free, and then if you use it more you wind up paying a few bucks. Seattle is $8/day just to start. That means if you use it once you pay $8. Uber is cheaper for a quick trip. It's not a big difference in real terms, but it's not enticing enough for me to ever use it.
23
@19- Seattle is a perfectly good biking city. Thousands of people commute to work daily even in the winter. Even on a rainy day here, when I cross the Fremont Bridge the counter shows that hundreds of people have already crossed, and that's just one route. Ridership is much higher in summer.

As traffic gets worse and worse, it makes more and more sense to ride rather than drive. There are generally routes to get where you want to go that are not all that hilly. It seems to me that part of the problem with Pronto is that people who ride in Seattle own their own bikes and have places to keep them. I have relatives in New York - they and their friends use the bike share there partly because it is difficult to keep a bike in their small apartments, so that owning one makes less sense than here. I doubt there are a lot of people here who want to ride around but don't own a bike.
24
Kill it, spend the money on the homeless
25
This system would be far more successful if it didn't require everybody to wear somebody else's used helmet.

The Seattle helmet law is stupid and needs to be repealed. Bike shares around the world do just fine without everybody wearing a mushroom cap.
26
What @12 said — though I wouldn't use "world-class" as the criterion; virtually every large- or medium-size US city has either already implemented bike sharing or is in the process. For Pronto to go tits up would be a huge civic embarrassment.

And I don't buy the topography argument for Seattle being a special case. Pittsburgh's every bit as hilly (and bridge-y), and its bikeshare program has the exact same number of bikes and stations — in a city with half Seattle's population.
27
@20 Maybe not that many Seattlites. It's not like these bike shares are located in poor neighborhoods where things like bus stops and grocery stores are fewer and farther between. They aren't helping that many people who truly need cheaper and faster ways to get around. That money could be used for something like apodments for some homeless people or some other dire need.
28
Want to repeal the helmet law? Sign the petition >>
30
I'm ambivalent. The Pronto bike racks take up some pretty choice parking spots, and I don't care for the Alaska Airlines ads on each bike, but I do see people riding them when I bicycle to work on my own steed, and it's well known that all transport requires subsidies to survive and cannot 'break even' with user fees alone.

The question of how much the Pronto bike share system costs to run is a good one, hopefully Ansel and Heidi can update the post with that detail. And what's this about SPG's mention that it costs $8/day for a single ride? Bollocks to that!
31
@30: It's $8 a day for unlimited rides.
32
@31 yes, but that also means it's $8 PER RIDE for a new user who wants to try their first ride. That's a pretty steep barrier to entry. Especially since the new user probably isn't carrying a helmet and has to drop an extra $2 to dig through a bin of used helmets to find one that fits.

$10 for your first Pronto ride makes Uber seem like a reasonable option. And if you never get the user to take that first ride, it doesn't matter if the second one is free.

It's a rational pricing structure for people who already know they like bikeshare from using it elsewhere, not for a new system struggling to gain riders.
33
What @22 said. Especially compared to the much cheaper cost of New York, London, and Paris (the only ones I can speak of), the $8 barrier to entry in Seattle is completely unreasonable. How about $2 for a single-use?
34
@33

Bus fare for a peak 2-zone trip is $3.25, and the bus system has much better funding than Pronto.
35
I was wondering when the Stranger was start spinning this inevitable failure.

Pronto is not for commuting and it never will be. No self respecting regular bike commuter wants those shitty bikes. And. There are never going to be enough tourists to support bike share model like this in a city with this climate and these hills and not enough safe separated bike paths. Anecdotes are not going to keep it going and not enough for tax payers.

Unless a completely private angel investor want to step up, let it die. Just let it fucking die.

Pronto will never work in this city. Not with out a fuck ton of money we don't have. We have much higher priorities.

Like I said about this stupid boon dongle three years ago - it's not going to work here. Go ahead. Waste more tax dollars. Prop it up and see. We will be right back here in under two years.
36
Require a annual registration on every bike in the city. Make that registration fee higher than renting Pronto every day. Pronto ridership will skyrocket and the city will make a ton of new money.
37
I use Pronto. It is faster than the bus or walking. Of course I usually just use it to get downtown from Capitol Hill. Now if the bikes had power so I could get back up the hill, that would be good. and the reason I started using the bike share was that the maintenance on my personal bike was costing me a month what the annual Pronto costs. It has been a while but I thought that the $8 is for 3 days of unlimited rides.