Kate Hinds covers transportation for WNYC News.
NYC Mayor Bloomberg: No Date Yet for Bike Share Launch
Thursday, August 16, 2012 - 07:02 PM
[The Mayor said on Friday the system won't launch until next spring. Here's our post on it.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't putting a date on when New York's delayed bike share program will be up and running. The program was to have launched July 31, but that date came and went. The mayor has attributed the delay to unspecified software issues.
"We're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work," Bloomberg said Thursday. He also said, without explanation, the city is "getting very close."
Bloomberg was speaking at a press conference trumpeting the new shark exhibit at the New York Aquarium.
New York's bike share, at 10,000 bikes, is by far the largest planned bike share anywhere in North America. The next largest system is in Washington, which is about a fifth that size.
An ambitious bike share program in Chicago has also been delayed, and a vendor who lost the bid has sued, saying that city's transportation commissioner, Gabe Klein, had a conflict because he was a consultant on Alta's bid to New York City. A spokesman for the Chicago mayor has said Klein recused himself from the Chicago negotiations and that the suit is baseless.
Alta is also the vendor for Boston's "Hubway" bike share. That program was also delayed by several months, though officials there declare the system a success and are expanding it.
On Thursday, Bloomberg said the reason for the delay is straightforward. "Look," he said. "Everybody wants to say there's a secret agenda here. The software doesn't work. And putting it out when the software doesn't work, it wouldn't work. Period. And so we're trying to figure out when we can put a date that we're sure or reasonably sure that it will work. And we're trying."
"Everybody - a lot - the fascinating thing is those people who screamed they didn't want bicycles are now screaming 'where are they' so I guess we've come a long way and [are] going in the right direction. Nobody would put it out quicker than me."
Alta Bicycle Share, the company picked by New York City last September to run its program, was supposed to have had at least 1,000 bikes on the street on or before July 31, according to its contract with the city, which Transportation Nation has obtained.
Thereafter, Alta was supposed to have added at least 75 stations per ten business days, building to 7,000 bikes by September 30.
Bloomberg said Thursday there were no penalties for a delay.
"It's all private money. And the people who've put up the money, particularly the two big sponsors, Citibank and MasterCard, are fully aware of what's going on and they have been as supportive as you possibly can be. The city loses because we don't have bicycles, but the city doesn't lose any money or anything, and we all want to get it done as quickly -- but you've got to do it right."
The city's Department of Transportation and Alta have been ciphers on the delay. Even Citi Bike's official twitter account has been dark for a week.