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City to Seek New Contractor to Start Bike Share Program

Late last year, the City awarded a contract to a firm to build a Bike Share program in College Park. However, recently the firm became bankrupt causing the City looking for a new contractor.

The City and the University has been jointly working to establish a bikeshare system. Both parties received a Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) grant in 2012 totaling $350,000 which can be used to pay for up to 80% of the system equipment costs.

At the time the grant was awarded, it was the intent of the City and University to join the Capital Bikeshare System (CaBi). Bicycles and stations were to be sourced from the Public Bike Share Corporation (PBSC) of Montreal, Canada, while the operations side of CaBi would be handled by Alta Bicycle Share (Alta), headquartered in Portland, Oregon. The MDOT grant was awarded as a sole source contract to both entities using federal funds.

However, PBSC ceased to exist when all of its assets were sold to the highest bidder during their bankruptcy liquidation process earlier this year. The new owner has named the company PBSC Urban Solutions (PBSCUS) and proposed changes to their station components that will result in incompatibilities with existing CaBi equipment.

Alta has reviewed the history of their relationship with PBSC and the potential for a successful long term relationship with PBSCUS. They determined that it is in their best interest to move to a new supplier and have selected the 8D Company to be their new bikeshare system partner.

Alta has indicated they intend to move away from purchasing PBSC equipment for the CaBi system.

CaBi member jurisdictions (DC, Arlington and Montgomery Counties, and the City of Alexandria) are currently developing a strategy to address this situation. Their plan will likely involve an extended transitional phase from PBSC to 80 equipment. The earliest availability of this new equipment is not expected until the first half of 2015.

In order to be released from the existing grant terms and receive the funds, the State has informed the City and University that it will be necessary to select a vendor through a competitive bid. Consequently, City Planning Department staff have been working closely with University Department of Transportation Services staff to draft a RFP. Staff have contacted State officials to ensure that the resulting RFP will meet the requirements of both MOOT and the original source of the funds, the Federal Highway Administration.

It should also be noted that worldwide bikeshare usage has expanded and significantly evolved in just the last two years. The RFP process presents a timely opportunity to examine the innovations offered by new participants in this industry. For example, one of several new station less bikeshare systems could potentially better serve our campus environment & include more areas of the City. We look forward to reviewing all proposals to find a bikeshare system that provides the best match of cost, features, expandability and suitability to our City’s needs and then bringing forward a recommendation to the City Council.

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2 Comments to “City to Seek New Contractor to Start Bike Share Program”

  1. By Sam, October 9, 2014 @ 2:09 pm

    Compatibility with the existing CaBi system should be a requirement for any contract awarded by College Park. It may not be worth doing otherwise.

  2. By Fazlul Kabir, October 16, 2014 @ 6:59 am

    Sam, You’re correct. We asked staff about the compatibility requirement in the Council worksession.