L.A. COUNTY ‚ÄThe Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is moving forward with its own plans for a regional bikeshare program following Santa Monica’s recent decision to advance its own program last month.

The Santa Monica City Council announced its bikeshare plan in November to capitalize on grant money that would have otherwise expired. Metro had asked Santa Monica to wait until Metro had a plan in place, so the two systems could integrate but city planners advised against any further delay and council agreed.

Now, Metro is looking for public input on good areas for bikeshare stations. A bikeshare implementation plan is scheduled to go before the Metro Board in January.

Bikeshares allow riders to check-out bikes from one station and drop them off at any other station within the system. The hope is that Santa Monica’s and Metro’s systems will be compatible, allowing users to ride from stations in one system to stations in the other.

Council selected CycleHop to operate a 500-bike system to be in place before the opening of the incoming Expo Light Rail stations in early 2016.

Laura Cornejo, deputy executive officer of Countywide Planning and Development, said that Metro’s relationship with Santa Monica is still positive, despite the latter’s decision to move forward.

“From the very beginning we’ve worked very closely with Santa Monica,” she said, “and even now that they’ve selected a vendor, we’ve continued to coordinate with them. Being that they are a couple steps ahead of Metro, they are sharing whatever information they can share with us as decisions are being made and consulting with us and vice versa.”

Santa Monica’s decision to go with CycleHop – with whom Metro has “had previous conversations but not recently” – is not having a significant bearing on the process.

“We have to proceed with our own procurement process and for us the scope would be a little bit grander because we are looking at an entire region,” Cornejo said. “So I think for us we have to really stick to the procurement process and make sure that the integrity of that process stays intact.”

The same is true of the speed of the process – Metro is not speeding up or slowing down based on Santa Monica’s move.

“We were already working on a pretty expedited timeline,” Cornejo said, “so we continued to do that and expedite the implementation and roll out of bikeshare.”

Metro hopes to have parts of its bikeshare system up and running by the spring or summer of 2016.

Metro has identified “bikeshare ready” communities in North Hollywood, the Hollywood area, Westlake, Marina Del Rey, Pico Union and East Los Angeles.

They’ve asked residents to suggest areas for bike stations through an online map (available here: http://www.metro.net/interactives/html/bikeshare/) in anticipation of the January meeting, during which Metro will present its plan.

“The plan will include business models that identify how user and advertising fees, corporate sponsorships, and/or grant funding can support bike share operations,” Metro said in a release. “Metro will then move to contract and administer the bikeshare program.”

Metro will solicit bids from all bikeshare vendors so it remains possible that CycleHop, or a vendor compatible with CycleHop, will be selected.

“I think it’s just really important that we continue to coordinate with them (Santa Monica),” Cornejo said, “and leave open the possibility that it could still be an integrated system and we’re hoping that’s the case.”

dave@smdp.com

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