The City of Vancouver has extended the deadline for bike share proposals by two weeks until September 14, 2015. While the extra time for the process will likely result in a better response to the City’s requests for proposals (RFP), a significant number of concerns remain about the procurement process.
The City recently released a list of interested vendors; these vendors attended an information meeting on Friday, July 24th. Among the “interested vendors” was the Earnscliffe Strategy Group represented by Brittney Kerr. Ms. Kerr is a long time member of the Vision Vancouver executive, and to the best of our knowledge, the lobbyist firm Earnscliffe has no experience operating bike share systems or in providing bike share equipment. The question of conflict of interest needs to be answered, whether it is real or perceived. Should the executive of the ruling party at City Hall work on a bike share bid, and will the process appear to be fair to all?
The list of interested vendors totals 20 groups; however, it appears that only 4 or 5 of the parties are serious “contenders” who have vast experience with bike share systems. Motivate International, the successor to Alta Bike Share is an interested vendor. City Council chose Alta Bike Share to run the bike share system back in July of 2013; this has been since scrapped. MetroNews reported that the RFP is very open-ended. The City will let the interested firms chose locations for distributing between 1,000 and 3,800 bikes in the Core Area of Vancouver.
Are there are a number of serious flaws in the RFP? The City’s Purchasing Department seeks to find a complete solution with a single firm to source public bike share technology and to run the system. The lack of guidance on bike share locations will result in costly bids for any party that wishes to bid. Potential suppliers need to be confident that it is a fair and transparent procurement process; otherwise the Purchasing Department could potentially discourage qualified firms from submitting bids.
The other option the City could have considered is to make two rounds of bike share selection. The first round could be to determine the most suitable technology to be used (find an equipment supplier) and to locate a helmet supplier. Then a second round could be used to find sponsors and find an operator. A rigorous procurement process could also produce a firm specification with an exact number of bikes and a complete list of stations to deploy the technology at. There’s no standard to judge all proposals against. Certain parties that are privy to additional information (i.e. from the earlier round of bike share bids) could be perceived to have an advantage.
It was revealed in recently released Q & A document that no changes are planned in the helmet requirements for bike share. The City of Vancouver will not lobby the Legislature for any future changes to the current mandatory helmet law. Additional details on the Public Bike Share RFP can be found on the City’s website.
City issues new Bike Share Request for Proposals: Deadlines approaching. Can Vancouver get a world-class system? (CityHallWatch, June 18, 2015)
Wanted: New Vancouver bike share supplier (Metro News, Emily Jackson, July 20, 2015)