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Pronto Bike-Share Faces Shutdown Without $1.4M SDOT Buyout

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Image: Alice Huang

Seattle loves to cycle, just not enough to keep it's cycle share in business right now. According to materials submitted for an upcoming Seattle City Council meeting, Seattle's bike-share program Pronto is "insolvent" and at the point where SDOT must buy it or it will be forced to shut down sometime in "early 2016." The system was supposed to receive an injection of $5 million in this year's budget courtesy of the mayor but the City Council put a hold on that money until a study on Pronto expansion was done. According to the materials, Pronto became insolvent because of a lack of funds raised before it's October 2014 launch, continues to deal with "substantial overhead costs," and has racked up a serious debt while waiting for an injection of cash. The materials also outline that if the SDOT does want to purchase Pronto, it will require $1.4 million to do it. Pronto is currently-operated by cycle share company Motivate.

The cycle share, which Alaska Airlines contributed $2.5 million to support, was performing okay five months into service (28,622 rides) but a dearth of station coverage has limited the number of people who can use the service effectively. According to Pronto data, most bikes were ridden less than once a day between October 2014 and 2015.

In June 2015, the city proposed increasing Pronto's service area from five square miles to 42 square miles and increasing the number of stations from 50 to 250. The expansion would put 62 percent of Seattleites within walking distance of a bike station and would add a number of electric-assisted bikes to the collection. The money required would be paid for with street-use fees.

The city agreed to take over the program in October with an eye on expansion but as the mayor's budget was put on hold, the program has hemorrhaged money as it waits for the handover to be completed. Now it's back in the hands of the city council to figure out just how quickly it wants to act to save the struggling bike share.
· Seattle's Pronto bike-share program at risk of shutting down [ST]
· Seattle Want to Expand Cycle Share, Fund Northgate Bridge [CS]
· The Name On Seattle Bike Share Bicycles Will Be...Alaska [CS]
· Seattle plans to take over, expand underused Pronto bike-share network [ST]