El Paso mayor temporarily halts bike share program after new proposal for more money

Mayor halts bike share program after request for more money

EL PASO, Texas - Mayor Oscar Leeser on Tuesday put El Paso's bike share program on pause after criticizing a new proposal that called for an additional $400,000 in federal funds.

Leeser made a motion to delete the item from Tuesday's agenda after saying the new plan seemed "foolish."

"I'm for bike share but I'm not for being bamboozled," he told Marty Howell, the City's Sustainability Director, who was giving the presentation to council.

The new proposal from the city department preparing the bike share program asked council to approve an additional $400,000 in federal funds for two years worth of operation and maintenance and a study at the end of the first year of program.

"We've always maintained the program will be self-sustaining over time but you don't have revenue coming in on the first day of the project. You need money to maintain the bikes and the stations," said City Manager Joyce Wilson.

She said the study at the end of the first year of the program, which will cost $100,000 of the additional $400,000 in federal funds will yield a bike master plan that could lay out bike share for the rest of the city, said Wilson.

The city council recently voted to establish a scaled back bike share pilot program with $400,000, which includes a $100,000 contribution from the city and $24,000 from UTEP.  The rest will come from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

The new proposal includes the original $400,000 and the additional $400,000 in federal funds.

The city's contribution will remain the same under the new proposal. Leeser is still not convinced. "Are we just wasting money here? Just because its federal money and doesn't cost the city? Because if that's the case, that's foolish," he told Howell.

The bike share program would consist of eight stations: three at UTEP and five downtown.

Council opted for a smaller version of the program after the Texas Department of Transportation refused to release previously approved federal funds for a city-wide bike share.

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