You’ve probably been hearing through the airwaves that the highly successful bike sharing program of NYC, Citibike is facing finnacial woes. Hampered by a brutal winter, which greatly decreased ridership, there also seems to be some short sighted planning from the system creator Alta, based out of Portland.
Apparently this bike share is the one of the only ones that doesn’t rely on funding from
the city it’s based in like other programs. Cities working with their bike share sends a message they are united together to provide clean yet affordable transportation options unlike NYC which allows these types of programs but does little to support them. It reminds me of the mixed message of the Bloomberg
administration where the Department or Transportation was saying “everyone ride bikes,” while the cops were ticketing people for running red lights in Central Park, or clamping down on group rides.
Without city help, the bike share relies on their sponsor, the “Too Big To Fail” Citibank, who provided startup operational costs, but mostly on it’s customers.
Those users of the system quickly realize that it makes the most sense to pay the one time fee and become annual members. This is the best finnacial choice for the riders, but doesn’t help generate enough revenue leaving Citibike strapped for cash and looking to the city for a bit of a bailout.
Transportation Alternatives director Paul Steely White was interviewed in Brooklyn Magazine and does a good job of breaking down what’s going on:
Here is today’s “woe is Citi Bike” update, wherein we explore why the beleaguered bike sharing program is facing financial difficulties (a.k.a. “hemorrhaging” money), even as it’s become an indispensable part of New York City’s public transportation infrastructure.
By many measures, the implementation of New York’s first bicycle-sharing program has been a success. Despite hysterical warnings that Citi Bike would bring ““total carnage” to the streets of New York, the program has been remarkably safe. There has been a lot of demand and enthusiasm, too. “People want the system to succeed,” Paul Steely White, the Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, who were instrumental in bringing the program here in the first place.
Read more: here.