Federal, State, and Local Governments Working Together When the Private Sector Falls Short
As Ira Koretsky shared in his blog post today, Bike to Work Day was May 17th. In the post, he noted that the event attracted a record-breaking number of participants with over 14,500 registered riders from the greater Washington Area. That’s about 2,000 more riders than last year. What many of you may not know is that the DC metropolitan area is particularly unique in the opportunities offered to cyclists, specifically Capital Bikeshare.
In August 2008, DC and Clear Channel Outdoor joined together in a public-private partnership and debuted the first bikesharing serve of its kind in North America, known as SmartBike DC. It consisted of 10 stations with 120 bikes. In July 2011, SmartBike DC failed to expand beyond the pilot program, due to financial constraints and poor management, and ceased operations. However, citizens still wanted an easy, economical way to bicycle around the city and city officials wanted to relieve traffic and encourage environmental, health friendly policies.
Enter government cooperation! City leaders in DC, Arlington, and Alexandria came together to establish Capital Bikeshare. The leaders pooled financing from a variety of sources, mainly Virginia Department of Rail, Arlington County, Crystal City BID, DC government, and Federal Highway Administration, to accomplish this mission. They established 100 stations in DC and 14 in Arlington. Currently, it is the largest bikeshare program in the U.S. with over 1,800 bikes and 200 stations in DC, Arlington, and Alexandria. In 2013, the program is expanding to Montgomery County.
To me, this is one of the best examples of federal, state, and local governments working together to solve a problem after the private sector falls short in meeting citizen needs. Unlike many other bikeshare programs in the U.S., Capital Bikeshare is not sponsored by a private organization and is funded jointly by user fees and the public sector. The DC Department of Transportation, Arlington County Commuter Services, and Alexandria Department of Transportation of Environmental Services work together to oversee the program’s administration, while a private firm, Alta, manages day-to-day operations. Through administrative and financial cooperation, public leaders have created a program modeled by many cities throughout the country, including New York City and Chicago.
What do you think?
Is Capital Bikeshare a good example of government cooperation?
What are some other policies and programs that represent effective government cooperation?