alta bicycle share
Alta Bicycle Share Vice President Mia Birk acknowledged Wednesday that "we definitely make mistakes," but that her fast-growing company is learning from its possible violation of federal labor rules and taking steps to avoid future wage issues.
Meanwhile, Portland city lawyers say the "prevailing wage" law that Alta may have run afoul of in Washington, D.C., which requires government contractors to be paid at higher than market price, won't affect Portland's forthcoming bike share system because it applies only to direct contracts with the District of Columbia or federal government itself. (more...)
Five weeks in, New York City's new bike share system seems to be doing just fine.
Initially plagued with problems (and negative headlines), Citi Bike's main issue these days is keeping up with demand for the popular new mode of transit.
"After two weeks of using the program pretty much every day to get from Grand Central to the office in the morning (a block from Penn Station) and back in the evening, plus a few other trips here and there, I can't say how much I love this program," a man named Mike Cordelli wrote on Citi Bike's Facebook page Wednesday afternoon.
As we (and many other news outlets) wrote last month, Citi Bike, managed by Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share, had serious problems as it was getting off the ground. An estimated one in 10 docks were failing to accept or release bikes. Membership keys were delayed. Customer service lines were clogged. (more...)
With Justice outside Alta offices yesterday.
(Photos: Jobs With Justice)
Jobs With Justice, a local non-profit that fights for worker's rights, paid a visit to the southeast Portland offices of Alta Bicycle Share yesterday. Jobs With Justice is joining the call from past and current employees of an Alta-operated bike share system in Washington D.C. who claim the company has underpaid them and hasn't given them the health benefits they are owed. (Earlier today we shared a statement from Alta about this issue.)
Chris Phillips with Portland Jobs With Justice contacted us today with photos and a statement. He says a group of about a nine people delivered a petition with over 1,500 signatures (that was started online by the D.C. employees) to Alta's office on SE Grand. The group was led by Father Jack Mosbrucker, a Catholic priest. (more...)
Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has released an official statement about an inquiry into the companies employee labor practices. At the end of last month, sixteen current and past employees of the Alta-run Capital Bikeshare system in Washington D.C., went public with allegations that the company had underpaid them and failed to provide federally mandated health benefits. An online petition in the form of a letter to Alta VP Mia Birk has over 1,500 signatures.
Alta released a brief statement on May 27th and Birk commented on the issue in a BikePortland story on June 11th; but today's statement offers their most detailed explanation of the issue to date.
at a docking site near Union Station. Some past and
current employees claim they've been underpaid
by Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
It's been a rough few weeks for Alta Bicycle Share VP Mia Birk. The roll-out of the massive and high-profile Citibike system has by many measures been a huge success. But it has also been marred by public allegations of illegal labor practices in Washington D.C. and software glitches and poor customer service in New York City. This bad PR isn't new for Alta as they've come under fire in the past for delayed launches and last year a rival company accused them of unfair conduct while competing for a bikeshare contract in Chicago.
In Washington D.C., a former employee of Alta's Capital Bikeshare says he was underpaid and not given the health benefits he's due under federal contract law. Alta operates the Capital Bikeshare under contract with D.C.'s Department of Transportation. Here's an excerpt from a Washington Post story on May 6th: (more...)
Portland's future system to possible sponsors
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
The Portland-based company that leads the nation in bikesharing just enjoyed its biggest launch yet, kicking off a 6,000-bike deal worth tens of millions of dollars over the next few years. And for Alta Bicycle Share, 2013 is only going to get more interesting.
Alta's system is planning to launch in Chicago in "late summer." San Francisco and the Bay Area are slated to join Alta's empire in August with 350 bikes, and Columbus will get a 300-bike fleet in July. Alta already operates systems in Washington, Boston, and now New York City, meaning the company's municipal bikeshare systems will be in five of the country's 10 biggest metro areas by year's end. Waiting in Alta's wings: Vancouver BC, Seattle, and of course Portland. (Atlanta and Philadelphia, two more top-10 metro areas, seem to be on their way to bikesharing, too, and Alta will be a strong contender.)
This sort of growth is huge for a company that's less than four years old -- and also risky for a company that just lost a top executive to a possible competitor and has had to weather serious technical delays and complicated labor issues in the middle of its rapid expansion.
So I decided to talk to two national bikesharing experts about Portland's locally-grown industry leader and the future of bikesharing in general. The two were Matt Christensen, managing editor of Bikeshare.com, a Santa Monica-based website that posts jobs and other news about the bikesharing industry; and Paul DeMaio, founder of DC-based bikeshare consulting firm MetroBike LLC, who's been publishing The Bike-sharing Blog for six years now.
Both of these guys were thoughtful, frank and upbeat in their assessment of where Alta and the concept of bikesharing are headed. The questions and answers below have been combined from separate interviews that covered many of the same subjects.
Portland-based Alta Bicycle Share has done it again. They've been chosen to operate a 500 bike, 50 station bike share system in Seattle. The announcement was made today by Puget Sound Bike Share (PSBS). According to a press release, Alta will work with PSBS to plan, launch and sustain a bike share network that will launch in Seattle by spring 2014 and then expand throughout the Puget Sound region.
PSBS Executive Director Holly Houser wrote on the company's Facebook page today, "We have been and continue to be impressed with Alta’s approach to bike share and their ability to partner with cities and successfully deliver location-specific systems." (more...)
At its meeting tomorrow, Portland City Council is set to authorize the contract with Alta Bicycle Share for our forthcoming bike share system. In advance of that vote, the City has released new cost estimate numbers for the project.
Thanks to new numbers from Alta, we now have much more detailed estimates for both the launch and ongoing operational costs. According to Alta, it will cost $4,599,823 to launch the system (that's up from initial estimates of about $3.8 - $4 million). Those launch costs break down into $2,589,323 for 75 stations, $827,250 for 750 bicycles* and $1,183,250 to manage the launch. (more...)