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$1.4 Million Needed to Bailout Seattle's Pronto! Bikeshare

After missing out on the latest round of TIGER grants and being stuck in acquisition limbo with the city of Seattle, the bikeshare system of Pronto is running out of money and time.
February 8, 2016, 2pm PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Josh Cohen delivers dark news for Seattle's bikeshare program, Pronto:

Seattle’s bike-share system is in dire straits. After a little over a year of operations, Pronto turned to the Seattle City Council for a $1.4 million bailout. Without it, the system will be insolvent by the end of March and the city might be required to pay back more than $1 million in federal grants.

Nicole Freedman, the director of active transportation for the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT), recently attended a City Council committee meeting recently to ask for the release of "$1.4 million of the $5 million in the 2016 city budget allotted for bike-share expansion." That expansion, billed in October as a significant public investment in the Pronto system, was delayed, "pending a fleshed-out plan for the expansion," according to Cohen. Pronto also failed to win a $10 million TIGER grant that would have contributed to the expansion.

The requested $1.4 million would help SDOT to take ownership of Pronto. Some councilmembers are concerned about the city taking over ownership of what is clearly a troubled operation.

In an earlier story, Evan Bush detailed the debate about how Pronto got into this position. While some say the bikeshare program failed to raise sufficient funds before launching, Pronto officials respond that the city's delayed acquisition process is responsible for the current state of the system's finances.

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Published on Friday, January 29, 2016 in The Seattle Times
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