Pronto bikeshare has been open for two days now, and so far I’ve just been watching it and deciding how much to use it. I knew it was coming to town but I never expected a station practically at my front door (Bellevue & Pine). So I have a convenient station, hooray. But when I look at other nearby stations I could ride to, they’re the same trips that have the most frequent bus service. So why bother? It’s more likely to attract people who don’t like buses than me with a bus pass. Especially if I’d have to pay $10 a day when I’d only use it once or twice that day. What I’d more use it for is longer trips that require a bus transfer, but the one I’d most frequently do is to Children’s hospital and back, and that’s beyond the 30-minute limit so I’d have to pay $2 extra per trip (even if I had an annual pass). Again no thanks, at least more than occasionally. I suppose I could “transfer bikes” along the way to get another 30 minutes, if it let me.
But another more promising use occurred to me this afternoon. When University Link opens I’ll be halfway between two Link stations, and Convention Place Station will close soon after. I’ve been wondering what to then, whether to stay where I am or move closer to a Link station. Some people point out that if Link had stations at Bellevue, 15th, 23rd, and Montlake, it could completely replace the 43. But it won’t. Normally now when I go to Westlake I take a Pine Street bus, or if I’m too impatient I walk. But with Pronto I could take a bike down to the Link station.
And that may become one of Pronto’s most widespread uses, to extend the reach of Link stations and fill in the “missing” stations. Some would say, “That’s nice, but they should have put in those extra Link stations in the first place.” But a bikeshare station costs 1/1000 as much as an underground Link station, and nobody has said where the money for those stations would have come from or how we would have gotten voters to approve them. People are more willing to vote for more stations now that Link is open, than they were beforehand. That’s the tradeoff of being the first line. But in any case, Pronto could end up being a way to fill in for those stations, if it eventually adds bike stations in those areas.