Seattle's Bike Share system gets deadline to avoid shutdown

SEATTLE - The City of Seattle's Bike Share network has been given a deadline to come up with another plan, or face extinction.

That's the result of a long, complex budget hearing Wednesday at Seattle City Hall.  Councilmembers Tim Burgess and Lisa Herbold presented provisos which cut off funding to the program and, in a sense, prompt a deadline for the Seattle Department of Transportation to come up with a new idea.  Both Burgess and Herbold have been critics of the service, which has been the target of scandal, and declining ridership.

Burgess' budget clause says none of the money appropriated in the 2017 budget may be spent on the expansion of the bike share system until authorized by the council through a future ordinance. It adds that "furthermore, none of the money appropriated in the 2017 budget may be spent on the operation of a bike share system after March 31st, 2017 unless authorized by Council through a future ordinance."

The Herbold clause "would reduce funding for bike share operations by $300,000 in 2017 and $600,000 in 2018, resulting in the shut-down of the current system in 2017," and re-direct money for other purposes.

Neither proviso received objections from the rest of the council Wednesday. That's a departure from past discussions over whether the city should continue Pronto, and/or the bike-share system.  SDOT has said it hopes to continue the program, with electric bikes, and with a new contractor.

Burgess told KING 5 that SDOT was aware of the language and is preparing a new proposal in January.  Burgess said the city's data shows ridership continues to decline, and below previous projections.

The council is expected to finalize and approve the city's budget at a meeting on Monday.

Copyright 2016 KING


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