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Originally published February 21, 2014 at 5:45 PM | Page modified February 21, 2014 at 7:02 PM

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Puget Sound Bike Share seeking equipment provider

After the original source for hardware and software for Puget Sound Bike Share filed for protection under bankruptcy laws, the bike share is seeking other solutions.


Seattle Times staff reporter

Map: Bike-share programs in the U.S. supplied by PBSC

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In Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s State of the City address Tuesday, he said the city was prepared to launch a bike-share program in 2014.

What he did not say was that Puget Sound Bike Share is looking for a new source for equipment after its original supplier announced it intended to file for protection under bankruptcy laws.

In late January, the Public Bike System Company (PBSC) said on its website that it would operate as it undergoes restructuring. But Holly Houser, executive director for Puget Sound Bike Share, said it would not be getting equipment from the Canadian company whose system is used in many cities, including New York City, Boston, Chicago, London and Montreal.

According to Houser in an email, the Seattle bike share was supposed to obtain all hardware and software from PBSC, but it is now seeking a new source of equipment, including bikes, accompanying hardware like bike stations and kiosks and the software that provides data on bike usage and takes payments.

Alta Bicycle Share, whose main office is in Portland, is the operator for Puget Sound Bike Share, and Houser said that the bike share is working with Alta, as well as doing its own research, to find alternative sources for equipment.

Houser said she cannot give specific details but would have more information at the end of the month.

She said the goal is to launch in August.

Under Puget Sound Bike Share, riders would be able to rent bikes from stations throughout the city. The program would start with 500 bikes at 50 stations in various neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, South Lake Union and downtown, according to the bike share’s website.

Users would be able to buy monthly, annual or 24-hour memberships. Rented bikes can be returned to any station.

The bike share has received funding from multiple sources, including a $500,000 grant from Seattle Children’s hospital, a $750,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation and a $1 million federal grant from the Puget Sound Regional Council, according to the website.

Rick Olson, a spokesman for the regional council, said the council has no reason to believe the money won’t be used for the bike-share project.

“Projects often encounter difficulties,” Olson said. “It appears at this stage that bike share is managing the situation, and they’ll be able to deliver the program in August.”

Alta Bicycle Share has historically worked with the Canadian company, with Alta operating systems and PBSC providing equipment and technology.

Houser said because the bike share’s relationship with Alta included receiving equipment from PBSC, Puget Sound Bike Share can decide its source for equipment.

Puget Sound Bike Share announced in April that it had chosen Alta as its operator/vendor, according to the bike share’s website. But Houser said recently that the bike share had not yet signed its contract with Alta because “we have been waiting to find out what’s happening with PBSC before we do that.”

Houser wrote in an email Feb. 19 that the bike share is “days away” from signing its contract with Alta.

One possible option for Puget Sound Bike Share comes out of a new partnership between Alta and 8D Technologies, which provided software for PBSC before the Canadian company developed an in-house solution, according to Houser.

Leslie Carlson, a spokeswoman for Alta Bicycle Share, said all the bike-share systems scheduled to launch in 2014 are expected to start on time.

She said that in the new partnership, 8D Technologies would provide bike stations, kiosks and software, but Alta is still determining a bike supplier.

Although Carlson said Seattle will be using the 8D Technologies stations, kiosks and software, Houser said they have not committed to this option.

“We’re very open-minded at this point,” Houser said. “Our focus right now is really to make sure that we launch the best system we possibly can. We’re not going to rush into something just to launch this year.”

Safiya Merchant: 206-464-2299 or smerchant@seattletimes.com.



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