Paying for Pronto

Who's Paying for Pronto?

By Josh Feit October 16, 2014

 Seattle's new bikeshare program Pronto debuted this week. 

We were at the Monday AM Pronto press kickoff and wrote about it in Fizz, but Pronto wasn't able to answer our questions about their funding right away. They've since gotten back to us, and here's the deal: 

The "Phase 1" launch cost $4.75 million with $2.5 coming from lead sponsor Alaska Airlines (the carbon footprint irony escapes no one), $750,000 in one-time state money from WSDOT (who says the GOP senate is blocking transit money!), $1 million in federal money (who says the GOP house is blocking transit money!); and $500,000 from Seattle Children's Hospital.  


Additionally, Pronto reports that annual operating costs are budgeted at $1.4 million and will be covered by a combination of revenues from Pronto user fees (the $85 yearly membership fee, for example) and station sponsorships. The specific breakdown is this: $1.05 million from members, $250,000 from sponsors, and $200,000 "TBA" in additional station sponsors. 

Pronto spokeswoman Kristi Herriot summarizes: "Pronto anticipates that 75% of its annual operating costs will be covered by user-generated revenues, with the remaining being covered by station sponsorships.  It currently has about $700,000 in station sponsorship secured which will span the next three years."

At Monday morning's kickoff in Occidental Park in Pioneer Square, where Cola reporter Casey couldn't help but notice the contrast between the bike yuppies gathered with the mayor and Pronto staff in the Northeast corner of the mall and the regular grizzled and homeless people hanging out over by the chess tables and benches on the west side of the mall, Mayor Murray noted an additional $600,000 in funding for expanding next year in the Central District, Little Saigon, and Yesler Terrace—and a $400,000 city grant for Low Income Access to Bike Share, including both programming and the stations.

 Phyllis Porter, who’s on Pronto’s Equity Advisory Committee, tells us the discounted memberships are “presently in effect and open” based on income relative to Area Median Income (AMI) and enrollment in city affordable housing programs: $40 (instead of the $85) for people at 80 percent of AMI, $30 for people at 50 percent of AMI, and $20 for people at 30 percent of AMI. 

Seattle’s AMI is roughly $60,000 year for a single adult. 

The downside: the discount presumably excludes poor people who aren’t in affordable housing programs—for instance, the homeless. And even people who qualify might have a hard time enrolling: when we asked Pronto’s customer service line how to apply for the discount, they didn't know.


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