CITY HALL — After significant delays, City Hall’s bikeshare vendor of choice has opened systems in at least two cities with another opening scheduled for later this week.
Bikeshares allow riders to check-out bikes from one station and drop them off at any other station in the city. In November, City Council agreed to pay CycleHop $5.6 million to operate a 500-bike system despite the fact that the company had not yet opened in any other city.
Now that’s changed.
In late November, CycleHop added 100 bikes to 27 racks throughout Phoenix — later than the initial proposed opening of early 2014 and short of the 500 bike goal.
Tampa opened a 300-bike CycleHop system weeks after Santa Monica’s council approved a contract with the company. Tampa’s system had originally been slated to open a year prior.
On Friday, Orlando has scheduled an opening for its 200-bike CycleHop system — a system that was originally scheduled to open in the spring to coincide with the launch of Central Florida’s commuter rail.
Ottawa’s bikeshare system, which was scheduled to reopen using CycleHop in the summer, is still delayed.
The Daily Press reached out to CycleHop for comment but did not hear back by press time.
In approving the agreement in November, councilmembers expressed mild concern about the delays and the company’s lack of experience but we’re reassured by city planners, who explained CycleHop’s employees have solid experience working for other bikeshare companies.
Further, the cities that experienced delays negotiated contracts that are different from Santa Monica’s.
In the case of Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa, and Ottawa, CycleHop is basically operating on its own, without much help from taxpayers.
“Our skin in the game was offering up appropriate public right-of-ways for bikeshare kiosks and coordinating the permitting of that,” Jean Duncan, Tampa’s director of Transportation (and Stormwater Services) told the Daily Press last year. “We didn’t have a financial role in this. We see it as their business and their business model.”
This meant that CycleHop was alone in searching for corporate sponsorship and figuring out pricing for user fees.
In Santa Monica’s case, taxpayers and federal grants would pay CycleHop for installation and operation while city officials take on the task recouping those costs through fees and corporate sponsorship.
With that upfront payment to CycleHop, City Hall — which hopes to have the system up and running by the time the income Expo Light Rail opens in early 2016 — will likely be in a better position to demand punctuality.