Capital Bikeshare put on hold in College Park

February 27
Bikes on bikes on bikes. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)
Bikes on bikes on bikes. (Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post)

A plan to bring Capital Bikeshare to College Park is on hold as a result of the bankruptcy filing of a company that manufactures the bicycles for the operator of the program, a College Park official said.

College Park and the university said in October they were negotiating a one-year contract with Alta Bicycle Share, the company that runs Capital Bikeshare, to install bike stations, supply bicycles and operate the system. The plan was to have Capital Bikeshare running by Feb. 1.

Terry A. Schum, director of planning for College Park, said the city was very close to signing the agreement with Alta, but it is now on hold due to Public Bike System Co.’s filing for bankruptcy protection last month. Public Bike System is one of Alta’s main equipment and technology suppliers.

“Unfortunately, we are in a holding pattern,” said Schum in an email this week.

Alta Bicycle Share said in a statement last month that current bike sharing operations in the Washington area are not affected by the bankruptcy filing.

“Our systems across the country — in Washington D.C., Boston, New York City, Chicago, the Bay Area, Columbus, OH, and Chattanooga, TN—are up and running and ABS will ensure that they continue to operate without interruption,” the company said.  “
Given our plans to expand current systems and launch new systems this year, we’re in constant communication with both PBSC as well as its suppliers to ensure we can do so successfully.”

Schum said College Park is working with the Capital Bikeshare partners in the District, Virginia and and Montgomery County and should have an update on the city’s launch by the end of March.

City and university officials said last year they hoped to have Capital Bikeshare running just in time for the spring semester at the University of Maryland. The plan in College Park is to install 10 bike stations with 62 bikes across the city, including six stations on university property and one at the College Park Metro station.

College Park would be the latest jurisdiction in the region — and the first in Prince George’s County — to join the fast-growing bicycle-sharing network.

Capital Bikeshare operates in the District, Arlington, Alexandria and Montgomery. Last month Capital Bikeshare added two new stations in Montgomery, bringing their total stations to 43.

Officials in Prince George’s say they expect strong demand for bike rentals from the Metro station to the university campus and for commuting between new housing developments along the Route 1 corridor to the university, which is the largest employer in the city.

The annual cost to operate all 10 stations is expected to be $160,646. The city and the university received a state grant of $374,980 to help cover costs to start the program.

Luz Lazo writes about transportation and development. She has recently written about the challenges of bus commuting, Metro’s dark stations, and the impact of sequestration on air travel.
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