News Blog for Seattle's Maple Leaf Neighborhood

 

Update: Public transportation – and a new City Council

January 30th, 2016 · 24 Comments

Update on Mardi Gras:

The Seattle Times has an opinion piece here. It’s not supportive of Pronto.

Update Feb. 4:

The Stranger has a Pronto story here.

The Seattle Bike Blog has one here.

Update Feb. 3: Josh Feit over at PublicCola has an update on Tuesday’s hearing on Pronto rental bikes.

Bottom line: Not much happened. Any vote was postponed as apparently only two transportation committee members were present – including the chair, Councilman Mike O’Brien.

To O’Brien’s frustration, SDOT’s presentation didn’t come with a specific business plan other than the immediate pitch to stabilize the program—there are currently 50-plus stations with 500 bikes and 3,000 members—and then have the city put it out to bid again in 2017….

O’Brien’s committee didn’t take any action yesterday (Pronto will go under in March if the city doesn’t bail it out); O’Brien reasoned that his other council colleagues are likely to have questions. Indeed, letters have been coming in to city hall suggesting that the $5 million could go to homelessness programs.

Feit tweeted about the meeting here.

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A month into Seattle’s new City Council – in which council members are elected neighborhood by neighborhood – we’ll get a look at what this might mean for local public transportation.

Specifically, what will the council members – representing their districts – say about:

* Rescuing Pronto bike sharing rental.

* The apparent disappearance of much of our direct bus service to downtown.

On Tuesday, the City Council will discuss whether to spend $1.4 million to bail out the failing Pronto public bike rental  system.

Fifteen months after launch, Pronto is insolvent. Also, no one is riding the bikes.

As the map shows, there are no Pronto bikes available in Maple Leaf nor, for that matter, in all of Council District 5 (north Seattle), now represented by Debora Juarez.

There was a proposal to put a Pronto station at North Seattle College, but only if the feds paid for it. The feds declined.

Our earlier post is here. The Seattle Times has an updated story here: Seattle’s Pronto bike-share nonprofit teetering, seeks $1.4M rescue by city. (Note to “terriance”, in the +300-plus comments on that story: We don’t know what an “enterprise producer” is, either.)

Councilmember Mike O’Brien, who chairs the Transportation and Sustainability Committee, said he was disappointed to see Pronto “go financially sideways so quick” and said he’ll have to carefully consider whether to fund it.

“Just barely a year into it we’re going to throw a million and half into it to keep it alive and see what the next phase is.”

He said he believed bike sharing could work in Seattle, but O’Brien said, “If we’re not going to make it work, let’s figure that out as soon as possible and not spend money on it.”

The Seattle Bike Blog has posted here: With Pronto in the red, city outlines takeover and expansion plan.

The Times’ Danny Westneat has a column here.

In its first year, people took 142,832 rides on Pronto bikes. That’s only 391 rides per day. It’s about seven rides taken at each station per day. Each station brought in only an average $30 a day in revenue.  These are terrible figures considering the bike stations are dotted around places like the Amazon jungle, which we imagine should be meccas of alternative transportation.

Also, helmets.

Also, buses.

With the coming of light rail to the University District, there are proposed changes in Metro routes – but we’ll be damned if we understand them.

We weren’t at the Community Council meeting Wednesday evening, but reports on “Metro’s” presentation were not illuminating.

Anecdotally, the word is that changes will eliminate direct bus service to downtown outside of major commute hours – you’ll have to go to a light rail station instead. This seems to contradict what we reported in October.

We’ve glared at Metro’s planning web pages, but haven’t figured it out. It does look like Route 72 is being scrapped.  Metro claims (in chart below) that no changes are coming to Route 73,  but that’s not true. Route 73 will no longer go downtown during the day, nor will Route 66 (down Roosevelt Way Northeast).

Come Monday we’ll see if Metro staff can help.

Here’s a part of what we found:

Summary of Changes

• Route 71 maintained between Wedgwood, University District, and University of Washington Station Monday through Saturday

• Improved frequency on routes 48, 49, 62, 65, 67, 70, 73, 75, and 372X

• Frequent connections to Link light rail at the University of Washington Station, replacing complicated/unreliable all-day bus service between northeast Seattle and downtown Seattle

• Service every 8 minutes or better between the heart of the University District and the University of Washington Station on seven all-day routes (44, 45, 48, 67, 71, 73, and 271)

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