A couple weeks ago, GM reported that he heard a rumor that the planned expansion of the Smartbike program had hit a snag and that Clear Channel was uninterested in running an expanded system. Well the Georgetown Current reported yesterday that like most rumors, there was some truth and some falsity to the reported rumor. After the jump, GM does some rumor post-op:
GM reported rumor: Smartbike expansion has hit a snag.
Correct? Apparently yes. The plans announced last winter called for new stations by the summer (including one in Georgetown). The Current reports that DDOT is “currently negotiating an expansion contract with [Clear Channel Outdoor]” and they “haven’t finalized what [they're] going to do.” With negotiations ongoing, it seems clear that they’re not going to hit the summer deadline.
Rumor: Clear Channel is not interested in running an expanded program.
Correct? Ostensibly not. According to the article, Clear Channel sent DDOT a plan for expansion last week. Was it an honest plan for expansion and not just a negotiating tactic to increase the buy-out cost? Who knows.
Rumor: DDOT is considering dumping Clear Channel.
Correct? Maybe. According to the Current, DDOT is “currently evaluating what type of future arrangement would work best for their long-term goals for the system.” Thus, it seems that DDOT is interested in taking a bit of a breather before expanding the system ten-fold to determine whether Clear Channel’s services are what they want to commit to. It’s still early enough to switch horses without major disruption. Once we have 100 or more stations, that will be much more expensive.
Rumor: Smartbike will expand the program to Arlington.
Correct? Maybe. The article quotes Washington Area Bicyclist Association executive director Eric Gilliland who states that Arlington is interested in building a bike sharing program that would sync with the District’s. That’s not exactly from the horse’s mouth, but WABA is trustworthy on these issues. Of course, there’s a big difference between wanting and actually building a program. The article didn’t address the potential problem with Clear Channel not wanting to expand to a jurisdiction that doesn’t allow bus shelter advertising.
While some of GM’s details were a little off (Clear Channel is at least ostensibly interested in expansion) the overall thrust of the report was true: the expansion is on hold and DDOT is considering its options.
GM’s still not happy about the wait, but if it will result in a better system in the end, he’ll not complain (too much).