|Locale||New York City|
|Transit type||Bicycle sharing system|
|Number of stations||332|
|Daily ridership||34,176 |
|Began operation||May 27, 2013|
|Operator(s)||NYC Bike Share, LLC, a subsidiary of Alta Bicycle Share, Inc.|
|Number of vehicles||6,000 (official)|
Alta Bicycle Share was selected in September 2011 to develop and operate the system using Montreal's Bixi technology. The system, which operates without city subsidy, is named for Citigroup, which spent US$41 million to be its lead sponsor for six years. The system opened to the public in May 2013 with 332 stations and officially with 6,000 bikes. As of August 31, 2014[update], the total number of annual subscribers is 93,184, and Citi Bike riders took an average of 34,176 rides per day.
On October 29, 2014, Alta Bicycle Share and the City of New York announced an agreement to expand and improve the Citi Bike program. Jay Walder, former chairman and chief executive of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, was named new chief executive of Bikeshare Holdings. By 2017, Citi Bike plans to double its bike fleet to 12,000 and add 375 docking stations to expand service further into Brooklyn, upper Manhattan, Astoria, and Long Island City.
Development, delays, and deployment
In an effort to reduce emissions, road wear, collisions, and road and transit congestion and to improve public health, the New York City Department of Transportation (NYCDOT) researched alternative forms of transportation, publishing a strategic plan in 2008. It found that 10% of automobile trips are under one-half mile, 22% are under 1 mile and 56% are under 3 miles, distances readily served by bicycle. The city, which had already been encouraging cycling as an alternative form of transportation, decided to establish a bicycle share program of the kind that had seen success in other cities. Citi Bike was born as a private-public partnership operated by NYC Bike Share LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Alta Bicycle Share. In the 2009 bicycle share feasibility report, the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) recommended building out the system in three phases in the four most populous boroughs, but no timeline has been made public. The system, which was first supposed to start in fall 2011, got pushed back to July 2012.
The planned July 2012 start was delayed first by software problems, then by Hurricane Sandy, which damaged bicycles in storage at Brooklyn Navy Yard. As planning progressed, some residents expressed dismay at the lack of docking stations in their neighborhoods while others fought stations on their blocks.
Citi Bike finally began operations on May 27, 2013, with 332 stations in Manhattan south of 59th Street and in Brooklyn north of Atlantic Avenue and west of Nostrand Avenue. Officials said the system opened with 6,000 bikes.
When launched, the system was slated to expand to 10,000 bicycles and 600 stations in Manhattan south of 79th Street, plus stations in several Brooklyn neighborhoods, including Greenpoint, Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens as well as parts of Queens. No timeline for the expansion has been made publicly available. There has been increasing interest in further expansion across New York City; for example, a Brooklyn politician opened a petition drive to accelerate deployment in Greenpoint. In contrast, the May 2013 installation deliberately bypassed South Williamsburg.
Some local bike shops in tourist areas reported a decline in their bike rental business, and some complained that Citi Bike's advertising was misleading tourists. Some critics disparaged the bright blue color and branding of the bicycles or accused the stations of being fire hazards.
In January 2014, the designer of Citi Bike's bicycles and docking stations filed for bankruptcy protection. Officials with Montreal, Canada-based Public Bike System (also known as Bixi) said they were $46 million in debt, partly because the operators of Bixi-powered bike-sharing systems in Chicago and New York had withheld $5 million in payments because of software glitches in the docking stations. Alta Bicycle Share officials, who operate the New York system as well as those in Chicago and Washington, D.C., said they anticipated no interruptions of service.
Record breaking, unionization, and expansion
On August 6, 2013, riders took 42,010 trips, the largest single-day total for any North American bike-sharing system.
On September 17, 2014, in the face of overwhelming support for unionization, Citi Bike agreed to recognize Transport Workers Union of America Local 100's representation of Citi Bike's labor force.
On October 29, 2014, Alta Bicycle Share and the New York City Department of Transportation announced a plan to improve and expand the Citi Bike program. Bikeshare Holdings LLC, a new entity formed by the partners at real estate developer Related Companies and gym chain Equinox, acquired ownership of Alta Bicycle Share and named Jay Walder as the new chief executive. New investments include $5 million from Bikeshare Holdings, an increased sponsorship commitment from Citi of up to $70.5 million extended through 2024, and a $15 million increase in the credit facility from the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group. As part of the restructuring deal, Walder moved the company headquarters from Portland, Oregon, to New York City. The Citi Bike system will continue to be operated by NYC Bicycle Share, a subsidiary of Alta Bicycle Share. By 2017, Citi Bike will expand its operations by 6,000 bikes and add 375 new docking stations. This agreement also calls for service enhancements to the system’s operations, including upgrades to the software and technology that helps operate the bike share system. Walder announced the company would appoint a vice president solely focused on technology.
The New York City Department of Transportation and Alta also announced that annual memberships will increase from $95 to $149 plus taxes. Annual rates for New York City Housing Authority residents and members of select Community Development Credit Unions will remain at $60 per year.
The bicycles are utility bicycles with a unisex step-through frame. Their one-piece aluminum frame and handlebars conceal cables and fasteners in an effort to protect them from vandalism and inclement weather. They are equipped with a Shimano Nexus three speed twist shifter operated internal geared hub, full mudguards/fenders and chainguard. The heavy-duty tires are designed to be puncture-resistant and are filled with nitrogen to maintain proper inflation pressure longer. Twin LED rear lights are integrated into the robust frame, which weighs approximately 18 kg (45 lb). The bikes are designed by industrial designer Michel Dallaire and built in the Saguenay, Quebec region by Cycles Devinci, with aluminum provided by Rio Tinto Alcan.
Yearly passes cost $149, or $60 for NYCHA residents who are 16 or older. Purchasers using a Citibank card receive a $15 statement credit when purchasing annual memberships through the Citi Bike website. Annual members receive an electronic key and can make trips of up to 45 minutes without added charge.
Daily ($9.95) and weekly ($25) passes are sold at Citi Bike docking stations. Trips using these passes are limited to 30 minutes before extra fees kick in.
All payments are by credit card; Wageworks and Transitchek prepaid commuter cards are not accepted, as bike sharing programs do not qualify as eligible commuting expenses under US tax law.
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