alta bicycle share

Key supplier to Portland’s bike share vendor files for bankruptcy (updated)

Avatar by on January 21st, 2014 at 1:14 pm

City of Portland bike sharing demonstration-16

Montreal-based Public Bicycle System Company (PBSC), the makers of the Bixi bike share system that has been deployed throughout North America and a key supplier of equipment and technology for Portland bike share, has filed for bankruptcy.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

More big — and bad — news from Montreal’s Public Bicycle System Company (PBSC, a.k.a. Bixi) was announced yesterday. The company that supplies the hardware and software for America’s largest bike share systems has filed for bankruptcy protection to help restructure $38 million in debt.

In other words, in order to continue operating, the company has been granted the right to ignore some of its debts and negotiate with its creditors on any other available ways to compensate them. Though this doesn’t seem likely to directly affect Portland’s coming bicycle share system launch (and may actually improve things, since a bankruptcy-protected Bixi could be more financially stable) it is big news within the fast-growing bike sharing industry.

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10 key details from Portland’s bike share proposal and contract

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on September 4th, 2013 at 10:12 am

A rendering by Alta Bicycle Share of a future Portland
bike share station at downtown’s Director Park.

As public bike share systems continue to become standard public services in cities around the country, we figured it was time to learn more about what’s in store for Portland.
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Where should Portland’s bikeshare stations go? Ten maps that might help

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on August 21st, 2013 at 11:01 am

Portland’s draft plan for locations of the first bikeshare stations, shared online by Possible phase-two expansion locations are purple, and eventual expansion areas in blue. (Click to enlarge)

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“Mistakes” aside, city says Alta’s labor issues won’t affect Portland Bike Share

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 11th, 2013 at 9:28 am

Behind the scenes at Capital Bikeshare-14-2

Mechanics at Capital Bikeshare
headquarters in Washington D.C.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

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.[Read more…]

Guess what? NYC’s bike share system is popular and working well

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on July 5th, 2013 at 10:36 am

What a difference a few weeks makes.

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.[Read more…]

‘Jobs With Justice’ delivers petition to Alta Bicycle Share’s Portland offices

Avatar by on June 20th, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Father Jack Mosbrucker and other members of Jobs
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. [Read more…]

Alta releases statement on employee wage inquiry

Avatar by on June 20th, 2013 at 10:59 am

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.
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Mia Birk, Alta Bicycle Share face scrutiny over labor practices, Citibike hiccups

Avatar by on June 11th, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Behind the scenes at Capital Bikeshare-30-2

A Capital Bikeshare employee “rebalances” bikes
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:[Read more…]

As CitiBike launches, what’s next for Portland’s Alta Bicycle Share?

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on May 29th, 2013 at 6:30 am

Alta Bicycle Share principal Mia Birk explains Portland's future system to possible sponsors

Alta Bicycle Share principal Mia Birk explains
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, 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.

bikeshare experts Matt Christensen and Paul DeMaio’s Matt Christensen and MetroBike LLC’s Paul DeMaio.

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.

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Portland-based Alta wins Seattle bike share contract

Avatar 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.” [Read more…]