Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on April 25th, 2014 at 3:13 pm
of Bicycle Transit Systems, spoke in Philadelphia Thursday.
(Photo: Bicycle Transit Systems)
A bike share operations startup founded by five ex-Alta Bicycle Share employees, three of them based in Portland, scored a major new contract Thursday.
Bicycle Transit Systems, which like its CEO Alison Cohen is headquartered in Philadelphia, will operate that city’s bike share system, which is scheduled to launch in spring 2015 with at least 600 stations.
It’s the first time in years that Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, the market leader and operator of the popular systems in Washington DC, Boston, New York City and Chicago, has missed out on such a big new contract.
With 2.3 percent of residents’ commutes by bike, Philadelphia is sometimes cited as the bike-friendliest American city that’s larger than Portland.
Cohen, who joined Alta Bicycle Share in 2009 and served as its president, left the company in early 2013 and joined Toole Design Group, a major bike planning firm and rival of Portland-based Alta Planning and Design.
But Toole is not an investor in the new company, said Brodie Hylton, Bicycle Transit Systems’ vice president of marketing and business development.
“We’re bootstrapping a startup,” he said.
The startup’s founding partners include Cohen; Hylton, Alta Bicycle Share’s former operations director; Peter Hoban, Alta’s former director of new launches; Chris Cassard, Alta’s former chief financial officer; and Danny Quarrell, Alta’s former director of technology. Hylton, Cassard and Quarrell all live in Portland, at least for now.
“We feel like we’re the five people who kind of did the most to help Alta become successful,” Hylton said in an interview Thursday.
In the latest sign that the public bike sharing industry may be maturing, or at least continuing to experiment, Bicycle Transit Systems’ business model is different from Alta’s: it doesn’t maintain exclusive contracts with equipment suppliers in the way that Alta has had a longstanding relationship with troubled Montreal-based vendor PBSC, also known as Bixi. In Philadelphia, Bicycle Transit Systems will operate equipment by B-Cycle, a Trek subsidiary that has long competed with Alta for bike sharing contracts but never operated the systems itself. (Instead, it’s handed off systems to independent bike sharing nonprofits.)
“I think for B-Cycle it’s a big win, too,” Hylton said. “This is their first opportunity outside of Denver to do a large-scale bike share program in a U.S. city.”