Government Picks Transportation Winners and Losers

Through the years, we’ve kept a close eye on government nudging us toward multi-modal transportation. They do this through taxpayer subsidization of some of these modes of transportation. We’re talking about rail, buses, shuttles, and bike share programs. Additionally, bureaucrats urge us to give up road space for the subsidized transportation methods —even though few people are utilizing the methods. The free market should decide how things roll out, not government. If a concept is a good one, it’s going to succeed. If it’s a dud, let it fail.  

The local non-profit bike share program, PikeRide, has sought state, county, and city funding over the years. They are pursuing Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) ratepayer funding as well. 

The Evolution of PikeRide Over the Past 5 years

PikeRide launched in June 2018 after two years of planning. Initially, the PikeRide bicycles were regular pedal bicycles. In its first year, PikeRide reported in an El Paso County Grant request that 3,200 riders took 14,000 trips on the 200 purple-colored bicycles. According to their numbers, the math says that of the 3,200 riders, each one averaged just below 4 ½ trips per year.

In 2019, PikeRide switched to E-bikes after feedback from riders. Colorado Springs is a challenging place to pedal, right?   

COVID kicked off in early 2020, so you’d think people would have been safely pedaling around in the fresh air. Bikes were in serious short supply at that time. Still, PikeRide required funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) during COVID in the amount of $43,078.99. Then, they asked for a $20,000 El Paso County taxpayer-funded grant. They reported in this grant application that COVID had a profound impact on operations and fundraising. Also, they said they had reduced operations, inability to serve customers, employee layoffs, and revenue decline. Here’s one of the El Paso County grant requests. Another El Paso County grant request asked for funds for PikeRide expansion in exchange for an El Paso County Sponsorship.  

Throughout the past 5 years, one thing has remained from PikeRide. They continue to require financial assistance, and local bureaucrats continue to hand over taxpayer money. They receive funding from individuals and private companies, too. Giving your hard-earned money to charity is a practice that we support fully. Bravo to private organizations who donate to a non-profit they believe in!

The Colorado Springs Parking Enterprise has been especially generous with your funds. Maybe all of the parking meters and parking tickets are finally bringing in enough money for the funds to be redistributed? We were told in 2019 that shoppers and visitors needed to pay more for downtown parking to catch up to big cities. The Parking Enterprise must be rolling in the dough if they are giving out big sponsorships now. 

Here are some of the funding amounts and sources for PikeRide:

  • 2018      $15,000                 El Paso County 
  • 2018      $250,000              Lodgers and Renters Tax (LART)
  • 2019      $75,000                 Lodgers and Renters Tax (LART)
  • 2019      $15,000                 El Paso County
  • 2020      $100,000              Parking Enterprise sponsorship (not general fund dollars)
  • 2021      $50,000                 Parking Enterprise sponsorship (not general fund dollars)
  • 2021      $149,999              Colorado State Grant
  • 2022      $50,000                 Lodgers and Renters Tax (LART)
  • 2022      $75,000                 Parking Enterprise sponsorship (not general fund dollars)
  • 2022      $413                        TOPS Fund
  • 2023      $100,000              Parking Enterprise sponsorship (not general fund dollars)

This is a total of $880,412 in various taxpayer funding for this bike sharing program!

Recently, PikeRide has sought Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) ratepayer funds through the Community Focus Fund Grants Program . And now, PikeRide is shifting. They are promoting themselves as  PikeRide For All, where folks who are from disproportionately impacted communities, and earn less than 80% of the Area Median Income, are provided access to their own PikeRide e-bike and charger. Here is that funding application

PikeRide has morphed, and is putting energy and funding into an equity program to try to drum up ridership. This also opens up doors for more taxpayer funding. PikeRide is like the kid who remains in his parents’ basement well past the age of 18, screaming upstairs for his mom to bring him another ham sandwich. The government is Mom, who continues to support someone who can’t stand on his own two feet. 

Additionally, PikeRide promoted themselves as giving free rides to homeless folks.

Scooter Share Program

Following a different business model, the scooter pilot program was approved by Colorado Springs City Council in 2021. Veo and Lime both signed contractual agreements with the City of Colorado Springs. Veo couldn’t make a go of it, and failed. In an article from, Jeff Hoover with Veo said, “Unfortunately for us … the ridership in Colorado Springs just really never gained a critical mass.” 

Lime scooter entered into a contract with the City of Colorado Springs in September 2021, and is still standing. According to the contract, Lime is required to remit a yearly $75 per scooter fee and a one-time fee of $40 per station location. If the company decides to expand or move an existing location, then a new $40 fee would be charged for each station expansion or new location. In addition, the company is required on a quarterly basis to remit $0.10 per ride for each scooter trip that takes place in Colorado Springs. Lime pays these fees to the City of Colorado Springs. We can’t criticize a company like Lime. They are willing to take a gamble on a concept that may not take off. It’s called business.

According to its website, Lime also offers bikes. Maybe government can stop paying PikeRide to lose money, and offer to expand Lime to bikes as well, saving the taxpayers a bundle of money. 

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