Special gravel coverage

Portland-based Alta wins Seattle bike share contract

Posted by on April 22nd, 2013 at 11:59 pm

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.”

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said in a statement that bike share, “Is a solution for our region that will not only make it easier to get around and improve health, but based on what’s happened in other cities, permanently changes the way people experience their community.”

Houser added that Alta was able to address Seattle’s “unique challenges” of hills and helmets. To tackle Seattle’s steep inclines, Alta will offer bicycles with seven speeds instead of the three-speed bikes used in their other systems. Alta currently operates bike share systems in Washington D.C. and Boston and their New York City launch is underway.

Another unique challenge for Seattle’s bike share system is their all ages, mandatory helmet law. Such laws have been a barrier for bike share systems, which rely on seamless and spur-of-the-moment rental transactions. PSBS says Alta plans to utilize an “integrated helmet vending solution.” We saw a preview of what this might look like when Alta showed off the machines up in Vancouver, B.C. last summer.

So far, PSBS has secured $750,000 from the Washington Department of Transportation to cover some of its initial launch. But more funds are needed, and Houser says now that they’ve selected an operator/vendor they can now pursue major corporate sponsors.

This puts Seattle neck and neck with Portland in terms of getting bike share on the ground. Our system is also slated to launch in spring 2014 and Alta is currently seeking corporate sponsors to step up and fund Portland Bike Share.

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  • Tito April 23, 2013 at 12:20 am

    2014 = 2015.
    Ask Boston (intended 2010, then spring 2011, then summer 2011, smaller than originally stated), Chicago (intended 2012, then spring 2013 now ???, smaller than originally stated) and NYC (intended 2012, then march 2013, now apparently may 2013, smaller than originally stated).

    Alta has always delayed for a year, and then followed that with a smaller delay and a smaller launch than promised. And then they follow that by missing all their expansion goals again, just ask Boston and DC. It’s the end of April and in Boston they haven’t even finished reinstalling all the stations that were removed for winter and were promised for March….which is still less than the amount that was promised for last summer. In DC, the 55 station fall expansion is trickling in at about one new station every 5 days.

    Isnt it nice to continuously win contracts when you promise things you know you can’t deliver?

    Software problems!….supplier issues in Canada!….hurricane! …..excuses excuses excuses. Any other company would have been blacklisted by now. Why doesn’t accountability exist in this country?

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    • Concordia Cyclist April 23, 2013 at 7:07 pm

      “Isnt it nice to continuously win contracts when you promise things you know you can’t deliver?”

      Ask Haliburton. Hell, ask most government contracted companies. At least this result is just delays and not dead people. It’s also quite possible that those delays are due to municipal requirements constantly changing. It happens.

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    • BT May 13, 2013 at 5:56 am

      In the meantime, B-cycle continues to launch system after system on time and on budget…

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  • i ride my bike April 23, 2013 at 7:42 am

    I have a lot of respect for Alta and what they do but they are kind of becoming like Oregon Iron Works, a local company that wins lots of contracts but fails to produce with ever constant delays.

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  • Chris I April 23, 2013 at 7:59 am

    They should become more competent as they gain experience with these projects. I imagine that they will get closer and closer to the quoted launch dates as they move forward. It’s the same with any new product or industry.

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  • Schrauf April 23, 2013 at 8:01 am

    I agree the delays with Alta are concerning. Local is great, except when local sucks. Not sure if that is the case here, but I hope they can turn things around and succeed, and eventually fulfill contracts.

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  • dwainedibbly April 23, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Spring 2014? Sounds like a “Plan B” for the Portland kiosks & bikes. Good for Seattle. Good for Alta. A sad statement for the outlook here.

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  • dan April 23, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Seeing how many contracts Alta has signed, set against the number of systems they’ve actually delivered, gives me the impression that these contracts are being awarded based on connections and influence rather than ability to deliver on time and on budget.

    Like the folks above, I love to see a local company succeed, but “success” means delivering, not just inking contracts and recognizing revenue.

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  • NF April 23, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Does anyone really expect bike share to take off in a place with mandatory helmet laws? Vending machine”or not, the burden and hassle of helmets will ruin the prospects of this ever being successful.

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  • longgone April 23, 2013 at 8:35 am

    Man controls fire…400,000 years ago.
    Man creates restaurant….11th century.
    Man creates Atomic weapon…70 years ago
    Man creates bike share…10 years ago.
    Learning curve?
    Got a better idea?
    Can you do it better/faster?
    mmm, i thought not.

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    • dan April 23, 2013 at 1:12 pm

      No, I don’t claim that I can outperform Alta. But Bixi can, and I wonder why they haven’t won any of the recent batch of contracts that have gone to Alta.

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      • longgone April 23, 2013 at 5:27 pm

        I truly have NO idea about how/what/when/etc.etc. I am catching up with all of this. I hope no one took offense to my silly post. My layman’s take is that I imagine it to be a monumental task to speerhead an industry that has very little template to draw from. My simple minded ideal is that bike share’s HAVE to be good somehow. peace.

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      • Tito April 24, 2013 at 12:42 am

        Ehm, for all intents and purposes, Alta = Bixi. Maybe youre thinking of Bcycle?

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  • Eddie April 23, 2013 at 8:41 am

    The president of Alta Bike Share has resigned this month to take a job with a competing company, just as NYC Citibike is about to start. Isn’t that a little fishy?


    If Goldman Sachs hadn’t bailed out Citibike behind the scenes with a $41 million loan in December 2012, it would not be happening at all. How does Alta expect to repay that money?


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  • james H. April 24, 2013 at 1:04 am

    It’s all about political connections.

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