San Antonio Bike Share docks bikes for rent at stations across the city. Steward Health Care's sponsorship deal had rebranded the bikes "SWell Cycle." Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Steward Health Care has paid in full its sponsorship of San Antonio Bike Share, according to a news release sent Thursday. The payment will allow the bike rental program to operate through April.

“Our former sponsor has honored its commitment for all outstanding financial obligations and we are excited to explore new partnerships and opportunities,” said J.D. Simpson, executive director of San Antonio Bike Share.

San Antonio Bike Share, founded in 2011, is working with City officials and local businesses to plan a financially sustainable path forward, according to the release.

The Dallas-based, privately owned hospital system declined to renew its sponsorship of the nonprofit bike rental program for 2020 but had failed to complete all of its $100,000 quarterly payments as of Jan. 5.

Simpson told the Rivard Report that Steward was $200,000 behind in its payments, but a Steward spokesperson said it owed only $100,000 at that time.

Steward purchased Southwest General Hospital on San Antonio’s South Side in 2017 and owns 36 other community hospitals in nine states.

After seven years of searching for a title sponsor, Bike Share signed a three-year agreement with Steward in 2018, changing the branding on the bikes from “San Antonio B-Cycle” to “SWell Cycle.”

To compete with dockless e-scooters that had saturated San Antonio streets, SWell Cycle launched electric, pedal-assist bicycles in May.

Bike Share has established 65 docking stations across the city and 650 bicycles, including 189 e-bikes, largely through federal and State grant funding. Memberships, day passes, and sponsors fund its $700,000 annual operating budget.

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and mental health. She was the San Antonio Report's...