Bikeshare Hawaii Picks PBSC for Honolulu System
Would-be shared bike riders in Honolulu now have a good idea of what their two-wheeled rides will look like. Bikeshare Hawaii today announced that it had selected Canadian company PBSC Urban Solutions as the provider of its core offering: a 1,600-bike, 183-station bike-sharing system expected to launch next summer.
Bikeshare Hawaii is backed by both the City & County of Honolulu and the State of Hawaii (each of which provided $1 million in funding), with additional support from Hawaii Pacific University and the Ulupono Initiative.
The selection comes after the non-profit organization selected four vendors as finalists and hosted open houses earlier this year to give the public a chance to kick the tires. A demonstration system was provided by PBSC, as well as by Nextbike, Decobike, and Social Bicycles. The firms were among many respondents to an initial Request For Proposals to find a vendor to design and deploy an integrated system of bicycles, docking stations, and operational infrastructure.
Of the four, Bikeshare Hawaii said that PBSC Urban Solutions was the most popular option, garnering positive marks from 40 percent of all visitors.
“Hawaii’s bikeshare system will serve Hawaii’s people, so it was important that we listen to what people prefer and value,” wrote Bikeshare Hawaii CEO Lori McCarney in the announcement. “This exciting project is a community effort and we will continue to seek public input in various aspects of our operation as we move towards launch.”
Bikeshare Hawaii was perhaps more familiar with PBSC than most operators, as the group hosted two “vacationing bikes” from other cities that used the same system. A CitiBike from New York (named “Mike”) and a Pronto Cycle from Seattle (named “Jen”) was introduced to communities around the island and featured on social media in January.
PBSC is also one of the world’s largest bikesharing system companies, born as the Public Bike System Company in Montreal as a pioneering experiment of the city government. It quickly found traction around the world, including London, Melbourne, Australia, and Guadalajara, and several U.S. cities: New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Minneapolis, and San Francisco. All told, PBSC has about 45,000 bikes deployed globally.
But selecting PBSC was probably not a foregone conclusion. The Canadian company filed for bankruptcy in January 2014, struggling under $46 million in debt and disputes with Chicago and New York over software problems. A Canadian businessman (and furniture magnate) named Bruno Rodi fell in love with the company’s vision, bought it, and is now fully invested in its crusade to save the planet two wheels at a time.
Bikeshare Hawaii President and Chief Operating Officer Ben Trevino is a believer.
“PBSC Urban Solutions will be a true partner to Bikeshare Hawaii as the system evolves over time,” Trevino wrote. “PBSC understand that every city is different and the flexibility in their system allows our design to be unique and special to Hawaii and its residents.”
Among the strengths of the PBSC system cited by Bikeshare Hawaii are:
- “Thoughtful design,” including safety and security features like internal brakes, active front and rear lights.
- Smart docking stations that allow riders to find bikes and rent them via memberships as well as one-off payments.
- Solar-powered, wirelessly-connected docking stations that are easy to install, repair, and remove, with no excavation or other site damage.
- Based on public feedback, the system will have adjustable seats to accommodate shorter riders and an improved cargo basket design.
In addition to the product design and the company’s robust technology team, Trevino said the company’s global footprint is also an asset, considering how much of Bikeshare Hawaii’s client base will be tourists.
“Another reason why PBSC Urban Solutions is an excellent choice for Hawaii is its vast experience and worldwide recognition,” he said. “With fleets in premiere locations worldwide, visitors from around the world will be familiar with the system making it that much easier for people to get rolling immediately.”
Of course, Bikeshare Hawaii will have to put a few more pieces into place first, including finding additional funding and corporate sponsors, before setting up shop. But the hope is to launch in the summer of 2016 with stations scattered between Chinatown and Waikiki — stations no more than two blocks apart, covering more than seven square miles.
“Bikeshare Hawaii’s system will offer residents and visitors reliable transportation that will be healthy, fun and affordable,” McCarney wrote. “It’s good for the health and convenience of users, the overall value we place on clean air, and provides another way for individuals to connect to their destination within urban Honolulu.”