Alta hones in on Portland sponsor, explores NYC expansion

Alta's Mia Birk is confident the group can find a Portland sponsor to back the city's pending bike share program.

Alta's Mia Birk is confident the group can find a Portland sponsor to back the city's pending bike share program.

Portland-based Alta Bike Share’s local top exec revealed new details this week about efforts to add the service within the company’s hometown.

Mia Birk said the company is close to landing a local sponsor that would help the back the program within Portland. Alta has also begun examining expansion possibilities in New York.

Birk, in an email, didn’t respond directly to reports suggesting that the company might need a “bailout” from taxpayers to fund the program in Portland. She did say she disagreed with the article’s premise.

“In New York, we have thrilling usage numbers and we’re very hopeful about potential for expansion,” she wrote. “In Portland, we are deep in talks with a number of potential sponsors ... From the economic standpoint, an annual bike share pass is less than the cost of a monthly transit pass, the first phase is in the central city, which has a very high concentration of lower income individuals and students, and we are working closely with a coalition of equity concerns to broaden the reach of the program over time.

“But first, we have to launch, and the sponsorship effort is key to that.”

Birk didn’t estimate when the program might be ready in Portland. Seattle riders are set to begin using Alta’s share program in May.

Alta and Portland State University will be hosting a group of 20 planners from across North America who’ll study the city’s bikeways. The group will ride at next weekend’s Sunday Parkways event in Southeast Portland, among other functions.

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