Whatcom Smart Trips Website Upgrade Request for Proposals

Whatcom Smart Trips Logo


The Whatcom Council of Governments (WCOG) requests proposals to complete an upgrade of the Whatcom Smart Trips (WST) website to modernize and future-proof the site, as well as updating its appearance. The current website is accessible at www.whatcomsmarttrips.org.

Recognizing individuals and communities benefit when more daily trips are made by walking, bicycling, sharing rides and riding the bus, WCOG created Whatcom Smart Trips. This program helps community members make more of their trips using these sustainable transportation modes. The program’s website has been used by nearly 19,000 community members to log trips. The program is administered and operated by WCOG with the support of the City of Bellingham, Whatcom County, Whatcom Transportation Authority, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Whatcom Smart Trips is a collection of programs and tools featuring:

The original WST website was built in ASP prior to 2005 as a migration from a previous internal Access database. In 2012, the website was overhauled and completely rebuilt using Ruby On Rails but hasn’t received significant technical investment since 2014. The WST website is used daily by program participants, employer partners, WCOG staff members and those interested in learning more about the program.

The WST website/webapp’s primary purpose is to allow users to record their trips and track their progress towards prizes and incentives. The WST webapp also provides substantial management, admin, and reporting capabilities to WCOG staff.

The ultimate goal of the project is to take what has been successful for the past 10 years and invest in modernizations that will make it successful for the next 10 years, including both technical upgrades as well as design and user experience improvements.

A successful project execution will preserve current functionality, build on the proven foundation that exists, and provide a fresh user experience. New designs will be provided by Julie DeFoer of GoodEye Design, SmartTrips’ established visual designer.


For an exhaustive and complete scope of current functionality, respondents can request an app and codebase review meeting.

The current site has the following:


\The WST webapp has not received substantial technical investment since 2014 so significant modernization and upgrades are needed to ensure future performance. However, a ground-up rewrite is neither necessary nor desirable in this situation. With some time and attention, this application can continue serving WCOG well for years to come.

The app is written in Ruby on Rails and uses Postgres as its primary data store. It’s currently hosted on Heroku, although as it is now Dockerized, migration to another provider would be reasonably straightforward if indicated.

Because of the age of the application, there are numerous components that need attention:

Overall, the current front-end will likely be more of a hindrance than a help for this next phase of WST’s life, but the backend, though in need of modernization, is a strong foundation to build on.


  1. Modernize the Ruby on Rails application
    • Upgrade to latest stable Ruby version, and make appropriate and necessary upgrades to Bundler, gems, and other dependencies
    • Upgrade to latest stable Rails version, and make appropriate and necessary upgrades to Bundler, gems, and other dependencies
    • Upgrade ActiveAdmin to latest stable version and ensure current admin functionality is preserved
    • Update the Docker image as needed to support the above and ensure performance and stability upon deployment
    • Replace the outdated Javascript frontend with a modern one (consultant’s choice of framework)
    • Replace LESS with SCSS or PostCSS
  2. Implement a brand-new design
    • Implement a completely new, responsive design provided by designer Julie DeFoer
      • The design should be tested at common phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop sizes to ensure it looks good for community members on a wide range of devices
      • The design should be tested in and made compatible with web browsers that represent 95% of current market share at launch time
      • The consultant will provide WCOG and Julie DeFoer the opportunity to review the implemented design and request changes as needed
    • Implement minor changes to the application to support the new design as needed. The consultant should inform WCOG if any of these require a change in scope.
    • The implementation of the new design should meet the criteria of Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act and prioritize accessibility for all members of our community
  3. Minor Improvements
    • Implement an anti-spam honeypot, captcha, or similarly address bots creating user accounts
    • Implement ability to schedule monthly reminders to send automatically
    • Implement an unsubscribe function for users
  4. Maintenance plan
    • Evaluate the long-term viability of Heroku as a hosting provider and propose an alternate provider and migration plan as needed, to be budgeted separately
    • Propose an ongoing maintenance plan (to be budgeted separately) to provide application support, version upgrades, and patches for CVEs and other vulnerabilities


Based on the technical evaluation and scope of work as listed above, WCOG is seeking a consulting company to upgrade the existing WST website to a new version that will include modifications requested in this RFP. Because this project is funded by local grants, the budget for this project may not exceed $40,000 (USD) for the completion of the consultant portion of the work. A final agreement will be negotiated with the consultant following initial selection, as detailed further below.

This project may include additional phases to add new functionality pending available funding. The consultant company chosen to perform the update of the WST website may be considered for subsequent phases dependent upon satisfactory performance on prior work and upon negotiation of an agreement for the subsequent phase. WCOG is not obligated to use the same consultant company for all phases of the project.


The project will begin as soon as a notice to proceed is delivered to the chosen consulting firm, estimated to be in October 2023. The project will span one calendar year and should be completed by the end of December 2024. A project timeline will be finalized as part of the contracting process.


Proposals submitted in response to this RFP shall clearly describe:

WCOG encourages disadvantaged, minority and women-owned firms to respond.

Whatcom Council of Governments reserves the right to amend terms of this RFP or to withdraw the RFP at any time, regardless of how much time and effort consultants have spent on their responses.


For administrative questions (such as timeline, submittal format), please contact Michelle Grandy at (360) 685-8388 or by email to michelle@wcog.org.

Non-administrative questions (such as clarifications about the scope of work, selection criteria, etc.) regarding this RFP may be submitted by email only to RFP@wcog.org. For the benefit of all proponents, questions and responses will be anonymously posted on the WCOG website at wcog.org/smarttripsrfp

All questions must be submitted by September 25, 2023 by 5:00pm (Pacific Time).


All respondents shall submit a PDF copy of their proposals to: RFP@wcog.org.

Submittals are due to WCOG on October 2, 2023 by 5:00pm (Pacific Time).


Proposals will be evaluated by the project advisory committee. In evaluating the proposals, the following criteria will be considered to determine up to three finalists to interview:

Experience and qualifications of the project team in completing similar projects 30
Understanding of the website and its features and functionality 25
Methodology and approach 20
Demonstrate ability to meet project schedule & deliverables 15
References (with emphasis on working with multiple government agency partners) 10
Total 100


The selection process will proceed as outlined below:

Sept. 4, 2023 First advertisement of RFP
Sept. 11, 2023 Second advertisement of RFP
Sept. 18, 2023 Deadline for emailed questions
Oct. 2, 2023 Proposals due 5pm (PST) at WCOG office
Oct. 9, 2023 Selection for interview
Oct. 16, 2023 Interview finalists
Oct. 17, 2023 Notification of first choice selection
ASAP Negotiate toward a contract with the  first-choice proponent. If a final work plan and price cannot be agreed upon with the first choice proponent, WCOG will ask the second choice proponent to negotiate an agreement.


Persons with disabilities may request this information be prepared and supplied in alternative forms by calling WCOG at (360) 676-6974.


The Whatcom Council of Governments, in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 78 Stat. 252, 42 U.S.C. 2000d – 2000d-4 and Title 49, Code of Federal Regulations, Department of Transportation, subtitle A, Office of the Secretary, Part 21, nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs of the Department of Transportation issued pursuant to such Act, hereby notifies all bidders that it will affirmatively insure that in any contract entered into pursuant to this advertisement, disadvantaged business enterprises will be afforded full opportunity to submit bids in response to this invitation and will not be discriminated against on the grounds of race, color or national origin in consideration for an award.


Q: Is it a requirement to continue using Ruby on Rails?

A: It is preferred unless a compelling proposal outlines the possibility of an entire rewrite within the allocated budget.