County Council Talks About Bikeshare Problems With Bewegen Firm

Oct 27, 2019

Credit KPCW Radio

Problems with the third season of Summit County’s e-bike program resulted in representatives for Bewegen, the contracted operator, appearing before the County Council on Wednesday.

The Canadian firm assured the Council they are responding to the complaints and will create a better customer experience next year.    

County Council Chairman Roger Armstrong said he was concerned that they didn’t have the number of serviceable  bikes they expected this summer, and  repair and maintenance of the vehicles hadn’t been done to get them ready for the season.      

“Generally, I didn’t hear problems with people gaining access to bicycles.    But what we ultimately heard is that a vast majority of the bikes just weren’t in service.  And we were getting complaints from people looking for bikes at the Transit Center in downtown Park City.”

Armstrong tempered his criticism, noting that the Bewegen team visiting them was new on the scene, led by CEO Mario Carrier , who said he’s been in that position for a couple of weeks.

Armstrong  recalled that after a troublesome first year with the e-bikes, they admonished the then-president of the company at a meeting.   He said the second season went well.   But not this year.

“And then, this year there was supposed to be a much larger expansion.   And that didn’t happen.    And none of you were there, so I can’t even beat you up, much as I’d like to.  I will tell you that I am concerned that we did not hear about the fall-off of availability, the failure to do the complete roll-out that we expected, until the very end of the season.  I’ll take a chance on speaking for my fellow Council people.   We can’t be there.  We can’t be surprised if something is failing, something is not working, we need to know about it early, so we can figure out how to get it fixed.”

He said that the e-bike program, as it operated this year, isn’t a model they can hold up to other communities.   Armstrong said there have to be regular meetings with the county’s Regional Transportation Manager, Caroline Rodriguez, to keep her up to speed.

Bewegen’s program manager, Marie-Helen Houle,  responded that they’ve heard the county.   

“Y’know, we’ll have monthly meeting, or bi-weekly or weekly if needed.   But I mean we’re gonna have meetings, give her all the numbers, work with Claire on everything to make sure all the bikes are ready.  Just so you know, we already did a first diagnosis of a lot of bikes that were not working.  And the parts have already arrived for those.  We even did an order of parts that we are thinking we’ll need to change on the bikes that are on the road just to make sure that they are 100 percent working next season.   And that supposed to arrive, end of October.”

Afterward, she told KPCW that she’s working with project manager Claire Binder and will do everything they can  to make next season amazing.       

“We hired new people in order to help fixing all the bikes that needed to be fixed, and that we didn’t have  chance to do this season, which created the issue that you were mentioning.  So all of this, we want this behind us, and making sure that next season, we start with 100 percent fully efficient system.”

She said they are also making improvements to the IT support  for the bikes.

“We changed, redesigned the mobile app.  And we’re doing that for the website also, in order to get user experience better.  We’re adding new features in order for the operation side to have better knowledge and then provide better service on the road.”

Marie-Helene Houle, program manager for the Summit Bike Share program.