How to combine bike sharing and municipal broadband into one effort

Mar 22, 2016, 3:26 PM | Updated: 4:36 pm
A study showed it would cost between $480-$665 million to build a municipal-broadband network acros...
A study showed it would cost between $480-$665 million to build a municipal-broadband network across Seattle. (Eric Mandel, Mynorthwest)
(Eric Mandel, Mynorthwest)

Mayor Ed Murray says that creating municipal broadband is too expensive for the city to fund, and that a public-private partnership is Seattle’ best bet.

That thought led KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson to an idea for killing two birds with one stone.

At a regional broadband conference in Seattle Monday, the mayor said that a public-private partnership would work better than creating a municipal broadband network, according to The Seattle Times. A city-commissioned study found building a municipal broadband network in Seattle would cost between $480-$665 million, which would result in one of the largest tax increases in the city, the Times reports.

Related:Dori: Pronto! bailout is perfect example of Seattle’s ‘fake liberalism’

About 15 percent of Seattle households &#8212 many of which are low-income &#8212 reportedly don’t have Internet, and supporters of the broadband idea believe it would help reduce access inequality. The hope is that the city-run service would be less expensive than what’s offered by private providers.

While Dori isn’t opposed to the public-private partnership idea, he wonders why this method hasn’t been used elsewhere.

“Wish you guys would have used the same methodology for Pronto bike share, where that’s too expensive and that’s going to take millions and millions of dollars for something nobody uses,” he said.

So Dori came up with an idea.

“For the people who don’t have internet, if they want to get a message to their friend &#8212 and they would usually send them email &#8212 how about they write out the message, somebody from Pronto bike share comes to their house, picks up their message, delivers it to the person they wanted to send it to?” he said. “I know it’s not quite as high tech as municipal broadband, but it’s a lot cheaper, and it would, for the first time, make Pronto bike share something that would have some useful capacity.”

What about Web searches?

“People will go to the library, find out whatever information you need, and ride it over to your house on their Pronto bike,” he said. “I’ve got it all covered. This is going to become the most efficient city in our history.”

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How to combine bike sharing and municipal broadband into one effort