Could Citi Bike Go Broke?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

After months and months of rosy reports about ridership, reports last week show that Citi Bike is actually in big financial trouble. How did this happen? Kate Hinds, WNYC transportation reporter, and Andrea Bernstein, WNYC metro reporter and editor, discuss the numbers and how Citi Bike could be saved.


Andrea Bernstein and Kate Hinds

Comments [65]

Chang from Manhattan

Scratching my head, how the bank like Citi bank could have dumb pricing from the beginning? Yealy $95 less than monthly Metro Card while daily is $10? It's even unethical because dumping price will reduce MTA revenue. Now bikers contribute to decongest subway cars and buses? In rush hours I guess, but so where are they instead, avoiding mass transit in Manhattan? Not "NYC" but specific Manhattan, once tried congestion pricing but failed, so congestion remains on road. Cutting out wide BIKE PATH will reduce congestion or worsen it? Reduce congestion, If bikers are ABCD (Added Bikers Converted from Drivers). But bikers who have annual membership less than monthly MTA pass WORSEN CONGESTION.

AND biking is not public transportation. It is individual selfish mode of commuting in Manhattan, especially in rush hours. Bike riding space cut out as bikepaths and bike lanes in Midtown Manhattan in rush hours are like a straw on Carmel's back. Same number of cars are more crammed in smaller place going nowhere, while bikers are going faster in their own space breathing polluted air. why do bikers merit own space? For worsening air? For bikers safety when cars are crawling slower than them? Irony with bike space.

Safety is everybody's concern. More bikers without enforcement, less safety to everybody. What about people hailing a cab on the bike lane side? Less bikers, more safety for everybody including bikers themselves.

Annual feenshould be reasonable for CitiBike itself and as a bike congestion pricing. There is only limited space in Manhattan until AirBike infra is built over the streets. People move vertically to high rise to find space in this city.

May. 28 2014 08:39 PM

This is a strategic Pre-emptive Announcement of Distress by a company that wants to raise rates.

Mar. 26 2014 12:31 PM
Jf from Brooklyn

This is meant to fail. Why big teal docking stations that cost 10,000 each?a bike lock is cheaper. Ban diesel! It causes cancer.

Mar. 26 2014 07:38 AM
Ridgewoodian from Ridgewood, NY

art525 wrote: "Well I touched a raw nerve with you didn't I Rigewoodian? If someone feels the need to drop the brand name of their particular bike in this thread and if that bike costs $1500 then I guess he might be a little sensitive to a charge that his bike is a status symbol. What color is you spandex Ridge? (I love the crew in
Prospect Park that all wear matching ensembles. It's really cute. My wife calls them the Spandex Ballet)."

Nope, no nerve. I mentioned my particular brand in the context of a discussion of why I disagree with certain statements made by others about buying your own bike and buying a better bike and how that obviates the need for a Citi Bike. I established that I have my own bike and that it is, in fact, a better bike, but that the Citi Bikes are still useful - for a variety of reasons.

I assume you've looked up the Disk Trucker to come up with that $1500 price tag - ha! I wish! that's for the basic build - and what you've found is that it's a tank, not a Ferrari, a Clydesdale not a Thoroughbred. I got it - and paid a lot for it, relative to my means, I'm not flush with cash - because I wanted quality that'll last forever and take me anywhere I want to go. And that's what I got; I sure didn't get status. Status is 95 ounces of Carbotanium, not 44 pounds of steel.

I would look damned ridiculous in in Spandex. I just rock the Old Navy shorts and let it go at that. I've never even owned a pair of SPD shoes.

So I guess your telepathy doesn't work over the internet.

"Spandex Ballet" is kinda funny, though.

Mar. 26 2014 03:25 AM
Ridgewoodian from Ridgewood, NY

Bronx from NYC: BRAVO, sir / BRAVA, ma'am! Excellent!

Mar. 26 2014 01:28 AM
Michael from Chelsea

"Still no deaths." Brian? Is this a given? A little tin eared, me thinks.

Mar. 25 2014 11:44 PM
DTorres from Manhattan

I have an annual Citibike membership and plan to renew.
It has made a positive difference in my life.
I use Citibike everyday and the cord wraps around
a Trader Joe's shopping bag very well.

Mar. 25 2014 09:48 PM
Bronx from NYC

Q: “Some other bicycle share networks are smaller, does it make sense here?”

Coverage size isn't an issue per user because an individual dictates how far they choose to travel. Expansion only increases options and attracts new users. New York City packs a lot of amenities in a small area, it’s dense and mixed use in build. So bicycle share makes sense here.

Q: “The pricing structure needs an update?”

I agree that the annual is priced to low and perhaps that the day and weekly passes are too high.

Q. “Is ride sharing a serious problem?”

I disagree that ride sharing is a serious problem. You’re at risk of losing a significant amount of money if a bicycle is not properly docked for example.

Q. “Why would anyone use a Citi Bike recreationally versus renting a bicycle?”

For joy rides you just dock the bike every so often and wait two minutes, it’s not a race.

Q. "Are people abandoning Citi Bike"

There is no data to back this claim. Reduced ridership was expected this winter but annual members continue to join.

Q. I don’t live within the coverage area, screw Citi Bike. Will expansion ever come?”

Expansion will come. If you look at the history of bicycle share systems, it takes a little time. It hasn’t even been a year.

Q. “Why use Citi Bike, buy your own bicycle?”

I see you don’t understand the concept of bicycle sharing. Why does Zip Car exist?

Q. “Is Citi Bike hurting bicycle shops?”

Citi Bike is encouraging more bicycling across the city. It has had a positive impact on bike shops.

Final words:

The impact that Citi Bike has on transportation patterns in the Manhattan CBD is positive. It is relieving other modes of transportation while boosting commerce, improving driver awareness (safety), and presenting a positive (Green) image of NYC. Expansion could exponentially increase these effects. The public funding necessary would be a drop in the bucket compared to the benefits. A very efficient use of funding.

Mar. 25 2014 07:38 PM
Bronx from NYC

A Few Responses:

Q. “I live outside the coverage area but still use Citi Bike. Does anyone else?”

I am from the Bronx but subscribed for a full membership before launch. It’s saved me a lot in transportation cost. Great for cross town trips especially and the fastest way around late at night (significantly cheaper than a cab). I would like to see public funding for expansion.

Q. “Will Citi Bike survive?”

Highly likely. Bicycle share is both heavily utilized and demand is intense. It makes sense in dense urban environments like New York City and has become internationally accepted among world class cities (and even smaller metros).

Q. “Will Alta survive?”

That I do not know. The DOT could take over or a new managerial company may be selected (even a new company with much closer management or a combination of funding).

Q: “Will pubic funding be utilized?”

Perhaps. It seems to be the trend.

Q. “Did De Blasio decline to support funding for Citi Bike?”

No, he only stated that it is not on the table at this time. The City Council has recently proposed legislation to open the books (of Bike Share NYC LLC). Transparency is big in NYC these days. (BTW, there is no evidence to support that De Blasio hates bike share. In fact, his support of Vision Zero suggest he is in favor of alternative transportation.

Q: “Does Citi Bike have to pay the city lost revenue from street parking?”

Oddly enough, Citi Bike is required to pay back lost parking meter revenue. BTW, for what it’s worth, Citi Bike docks removed a minuscule amount of free street parking. Most were placed on pedestrian spaces like sidewalks or no standing zones.

Q. “Tourist are confused as it is, how will they utilize a Citi Bike efficiently?”

Look at a map? Not all residents are familiar with this entire city either.

Q. “Didn’t they anticipate winter?"

Lower ridership was expected during winter. Interestingly enough, ridership was higher than initially expected on days with little to no snow accumulation. Unfortunately, this winter packed record, consistent snowfall that remained on the streets for days.

Mar. 25 2014 07:37 PM
Bronx from NYC

1. "The $10/day or $25 is barely less than 2 round-trips or a 7-day unlimited pass. Why would a tourist take a bike? To ride in Manhattan traffic?"

A. Cheaper than a crosstown cab. A lot of tourist would like to cover more ground via bike while soaking in their surroundings.

2. "Do tourists feel comfortable riding in Manhattan traffic? Some don't feel comfortable **walking** in it!"

A. Depends on the tourist. Traffic in NYC is comparable to other large cities overseas.

3. "To a tourist, time isn't just money, it's irreplaceable. Subways and even buses are faster."

A. False. Citi Bike is the fastest way around the CBD during the day, 24/7, and cheap (considering you have 24/hrs or a week to use it as much as you like).

4. "On mass transit, you can talk with your fellow traveler(s)."

A. You can chat while biking. However, most trips are very short.

5. "Tourists are famously the only ones in Manhattan who look up. Can't do that while riding a bike."

A. You can soak in your surroundings on a bicycle.

6. "How many tourists know if they will reach their destination within half an hour. Or even where that destination (and Citibike location) is? What if they see something interesting along the way? The additional cost for overtime is very high."

A. A half an hour is a lot of time on a bicycle. The average trip is significantly shorter. Citi Bike locations are provided via a free application and your more likely to notice something interesting while biking versus the subway or a cab. If you get close to running out time, just enter your key at any dock and you get more time until you find an available space.

7. "One benefit of riding in NYC is exercise. It's a valid reason for bike commuting. But what tourist came here for exercise? Many of them don't even exercise back home."

A. Actually, tourist (typically wealthier than average) are more likely to exercise than others. I know I do on every trip (hence hotel gyms).

"By the way, I own a bike and in good weather ride it several times a week, for local shopping and exercise. But not in Manhattan."

A. Tourist are using Citi Bike, just not enough.

Mar. 25 2014 06:34 PM
Doug from midtown

I'm a regular citibike rider from Penn Station to the midtown Manhattan office. About half the time I can't dock at the dock outside my building, but there are sufficient other docks that I don't mind that much.

In contrast to the people who are afraid of Citibike riders, and writing as both a rider and a pedestrian, I find the pedestrians much more unruly and disruptive: walking in the bike lanes (illegal), jumping the signal when I'm half way through an intersection that the light has just turned yellow and forcing me to swerve around them and then acting surprised, etc. Pedestrians also seem unaware that it is against city ordinance to walk in the street when a sidewalk is available.

I love the program and even though it is partially subsidized through work, I think it would be worth it at 50% more the annual cost even without a subsidy.

Mar. 25 2014 03:33 PM
DT from Manhattan

Part of the problem is that they are a victim of their own success, with most docks empty or full. You can rebalance bikes with a truck in Minneapolis, perhaps, but it is utterly pointless to try and do so in midtown Manhattan.

The cost and time of moving 40 bikes in traffic defeats the whole purpose. They would be better off coming up with a way to pay the homeless or underemployed to move bikes back to where they are needed between the rush hours.

Mar. 25 2014 03:11 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

I know some will go stark raving mad that the financing for Citibike has gone bad, but some have to understand the shady dealing between Bloomberg and Citibank. More importantly, de Blasio doesn't hate the concept of bike sharing as a whole, he is just trying to make sure it stays the way it did, which is not using any taxpayer dollars. This is exactly what Bloomberg promised, and de Blasio is just keeping it that way. If some are so interested in keeping this afloat, then come up with the money yourselves. Better yet, if some of you are with Streetsblog or Transportation Alternatives, then convince Mark Gorton and Paul Steely White to provide funding considering how rich they are. Then again, they are probably made just to talk the talk rather than walk the walk. Also, I feel that gearing it at tourists isn't always a good idea, because tourism itself is mostly boom bust here. Don't be surprised if Citibank only agreed to help with those program primarily for the tax breaks or at least get some write off for doing this, not because they actually care. Perhaps the reason for not wanting to use taxpayer dollars can be because many feel that there are more important areas that can use that funding rather than this such as helping with public schools and hospitals that actually serve a lot more than a bike share program does.

Mar. 25 2014 02:53 PM
iSkyscraper from Inwood

Subsidize it, just like ferries and other forms of mass transit.

I’ve been watching bikeshare ever since Bixi came out in Montreal, and I rolled my eyes every time a new city would claim the service would be profitable. Just come out and say it is a form of public transportation and deserving of subsidy already. If you privatized some subway lines it would be the same thing — private vehicles, private operator, public ridership, public subsidy. It proves a public good that is worth collectively paying for.

This path is now being forced by Bixi’s troubles — Toronto recently had their parking authority take over their Bixi system, and others will likely follow.

Subsidize the thing and start expanding again. It’s a (public) good thing.

Mar. 25 2014 02:51 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Well I touched a raw nerve with you didn't I Rigewoodian? If someone feels the need to drop the brand name of their particular bike in this thread and if that bike costs $1500 then I guess he might be a little sensitive to a charge that his bike is a status symbol. What color is you spandex Ridge? (I love the crew in Prospect Park that all wear matching ensembles. It's really cute. My wife calls them the Spandex Ballet).

Mar. 25 2014 01:51 PM
Ridgewoodian from Ridgewood, NY

Art525 - What John from Brooklyn actually wrote is, "I BELIEVE many people see cars as an actual extension of themselves and bikes as an annoying fashion." [Emphasis added.] He was expressing his own personal opinion, not stating a fact. Whereas you presented a series of assertions as fact - "facts" that you did not,as you claim, back up. That's precisely why I asked how you could know the thoughts and feelings of all, most, or even a large portion of the cycling community. Perhaps you shouldn't make assumptions about strangers' motivations?

Mar. 25 2014 01:34 PM
Karin from Manhattan

Unfortunately, and unlike any other vehicle permitted on our city streets (autos, taxis, trucks, pedicabs, horse-drawn carriages), bicycle riders don't have the accountability of personal licenses, nor do their bikes have to display vehicle license plates and carry insurance.

If they did, they probably wouldn't do like the Citi Bike rider did to me this morning -- poignantly, on the pedestrian path directly in front of City Hall -- which was to nearly run me over. And when I reacted out of fear and surprise (might I mention that I am a woman "of a certain age"), his response was to keep on riding while he flashed his middle finger. This was not the first time I've had this type of near-accident encounter with an aggressive and rude Citi Biker on a sidewalk.

I hate this program for the danger it's brought to pedestrians and the hubris it has encouraged among bike riders. I can only hope its financial problems cause it to never come to my Manhattan neighborhood. Better yet, I hope it fails completely.

Mar. 25 2014 01:08 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Hey Chuzzle- finally something we agree on. That is a pretty accurate self assessment on your part.

Mar. 25 2014 12:48 PM

Hey Chuzzle you finally said something I agree with. I think that's an accurate self assessment on your part.

Mar. 25 2014 12:45 PM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

I am not a scientist, just an a#hole. LOL.

Mar. 25 2014 12:34 PM
art525 from Park Slope

Oh puh-leeze Rigewoodian! You can't tell when people are creating an image for themselves? A pose? You can't tell that bikers have a sense that somehow they are suprerior beings becuase they are in harmony with the world, with nature? If not then it's not that I am a psychologist but that you are oblivious. That does seem to be the case as you seem to be oblivious that I was responding to someone named John from Brooklyn who accused drivers of using their cars as "extensions of themselves". You didn't seem to have the same criticism of him. And unlike him I actualy backed up my claim. So in summary Rigewoodian, your coment is lame. Oh do I need to be a psychologist to make that observation?

Mar. 25 2014 12:18 PM

It became clear as Brian was comparing Citi-Bike to other "difficult-to-start-up-but-much-valued" progressive programs, such as Brooklyn Bridge Park (Brooklyn Bridge Park???) that he seemed to be ignoring the successful organizing lessons of recent history.
Citi-Bike can only succeed if its supporters are prepared to “push” it in the same way as “universal healthcare insurance” – mandated for all, and taxpayer subsidized for the “most venerable” interests, both individual (is that still up to four times the poverty level income?) and corporate.
Affluent city residents can always spend their discretionary income on the bike of their choice (and of course, “if you like your present bike you can keep it”). However, until we recognize the vital, environmental and moralistic interests that a rational and comprehensive Citi-Bike program fulfills, the program will continue to be judged as a failure for “lack-of-finances”.
Is the WNYC listening audience going to get a more accurate reportage on the machinations of the "Citi-Bike" finances in the future?

Mar. 25 2014 12:02 PM
Ridgewoodian from Ridgewood, NY

art525 from Park Slope wrote: "...[B]ikers are much more guilty of seeing their bikes as 'actual extensions of themselves'. Bikers define themselves by being bikers and feel morally superior to others be they drivers or even pedestrians."

I'd be interested to hear how it is you're able to plumb the depths of otjer people's minds and hearts. I don't know what your profession is but with your obvious talent for telepathy have you ever considered serving your country as a spy?

Mar. 25 2014 11:32 AM

This should never have been ceded to Citibank to plaster their name all over the bikes and make us all into rolling billboards. If NYC believes in bikes, we should be willing to invest in bikes. And we should have used one of the systems already working in other cities.

Mar. 25 2014 11:10 AM
art525 from Park Slope

James from Brooklyn- bikers are much more guilty of seeing their bikes as "actual extensions of themselves". Bikers define themselves by being bikers and feel morally superior to others be they drivers or even pedestrians. They seem to think they are presonally carrrying the cause of environmentalism on their own shoulders. Nevermind that we pedestrians are at least as environmentally friendly. I mean your bikes do mean someone is mining for rare meetals and those skinny tires are made from petroleum. And bikers often dress in biker fashions, like those silly spandex outfits and how much do they spend for their titanium framed toys?

Mar. 25 2014 11:03 AM
Dennis C. from Clinton Hill

I am a long time biker and firmly believe that biking should be a transportation option. I have a yearly membership to show my support and to have another transportation option. While the basic idea is great there are definitely problems with the implementation.
I live in Clinton Hill and have a dock across the street from my apartment. This dock stays empty most of the day, and completely full almost every night. It’s the same situation with several docks within walking distance.
When it snows no one maintains the docks. It is difficult enough to dock the bike under good conditions. It’s close to impossible with a layer of packed snow.
I got hit on two occasions with very large overage charges with a sum greater than the cost of my annual membership. This was charged to my credit card without any prior notification. Even if both of these were my fault (improperly docked bikes?) an explanatory email detailing the charge could have prevented a repeat.

Mar. 25 2014 10:58 AM
Ridgewoodian from Ridgewood, NY

John wrote: "Citibike is a terrible idea. Buy your own bicycle, used if you can't afford a new one. Adjust it to fit your body and ride it however and whenever you want. Another example of governmental synthetic freedom. Kudos to Brian for having his own bike."

Giovanni from Manhattan wrote: "There is no stress when you own your own [bike] and can lock it anywhere."

Except that Citi Bike is not incompatible with owning your own bike and is actually complimentary to it. Just like someone might own their own car but might occasionally take a taxi. I own my own bike, a fairly nice one (2012 Surly Disk Trucker touring bike with lots of customizations), which I use all over the city and environs, both for recreation and for transportation. I live well outside the Citi Bike coverage area, yet I'm still a member and I use my membership a lot. Why? There are times when it would be inappropriate or inconvenient to ride or schlep my own bike into the coverage zone yet the Citi Bike provides excellent "last mile" transportation. No, I wouldn't want to ride a century on one (though I DID see some people, presumably employees, riding the 5 Boro Bike Tour on them last year) but that doesn't mean they aren't good for what they're designed for. Also, once I successfully dock a Citi Bike my responsibility towards and interest in it ends - if it gets stolen thereafter it's no biggie for me. Though I'm very careful when locking my own bike up when I have to, theft is always an issue. (I had another, cheaper, bike stolen last year.) Far from being a "synthetic" freedom and adding to my stress, I would say the Citi Bikes give me more freedom of mobility and reduce my level of stress.

Which isn't to say that it's been a perfect program so far. I've experienced the same docking problems that everyone has, and the coverage are is too small. But these are addressable. I just hope the will is there to do so.

Mar. 25 2014 10:53 AM

This is just another thing that Citibank has put its logo on to have failed. Why be surprised at this point? Traveler's Insurance anyone???

Mar. 25 2014 10:50 AM
Mitch from Manhattan

I totally agree with the cyclist who called and complained about inexperienced Citibikers. I used to ride in the city when I was young but at my age I am more nervous about injury. Everyone I know who rides a bike in NYC had been injured at some point. Until we can develop a consistent NYC bike culture I believe it will continue to be a dangerous place to ride. I applaud the efforts to make room for cyclists on the streets but so far I see it as experimental as many of the bike lanes are so illogical that neither cyclist, pedestrian nor motorist are sure who has the right of way (east Bleecker entering Bowery is a great example). Adding Citibike to the mix only makes things worse - at least in my neighborhood of Soho where most of the Citibikers appear to be tourist who use a Citibike to sight see, not as transportation. Tourists are unfamiliar with the complicated rules of the road in NYC and I find they put themselves in danger (I have seen at least one accident right on my corner) and they pose a danger to everyone else on the street. With the talk about the need to get more tourists on Citibikes, I fear for the results. In Amsterdam, where cyclists largely have the right of way, tourists are discouraged from mounting a bike. The same should hold for NYC.

Mar. 25 2014 10:39 AM
James from Brooklyn

If we applied the same standards of criticism to drivers and auto infrastructure as we do to bikers, we'd outlaw half of all vehicles and revoke driving privileges en mass. I believe many people see cars as an actual extension of themselves and bikes as an annoying fashion.

Mar. 25 2014 10:39 AM
SK Brooklyn from Brooklyn

I'm very skeptical of all the information so far released.

How many 1% salaries are sucking the coffers dry?

How many of the vendors had "connections" and sucked the coffers dry?

How many people are on payroll and probably shouldn't be?

Corporations donate money like the US does - they want to (help) decide where that money is spent in order to keep it in their corporate "family."

It looks like this deserves more investigation.

Mar. 25 2014 10:35 AM
Tom Reingold from West Village, Manhattan

Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge bike nut and cycling advocate. I was enthralled when citibike got off the ground. I haven't joined because while I live in its zone of service (in the West Village), my destinations are outside, on the upper west side.

I think Citibank hoodwinked NYC by providing a big initial sponsorship. It hid the costs of the program. I don't blame the company from pulling its money out, though I think it was a dirty deal, because if the city decides on a different funding model (raising membership fees or a city subsidy), will it be worth the money to remove the logos from the bikes? If not, Citibank gets a huge advertising boost, for pretty cheap.

Hiding the costs is bad for everyone, including the members. Many people have discovered the benefits of getting around by bike, and they have a worry-free way of doing it, and my question is, how much are people willing to pay?

Also, the program has hurt bike shops terribly. Some Citibike members are former bike shop customers, and the program took away the business because the apparent cost -- the cost to the customer -- is so much lower. Where will that come from now? Some who wouldn't use Citibike without the subsidy, might buy or rent bikes, if the subsidy existed but were lower. What is the real value of a bike sharing program? I think more than consumers are paying.

Would it make sense to have bike shops have a similar program? I'd like the city to approach the businesses. They didn't do that. I think that was a big slap to local businesses, and in the end, it hurts consumers, too, now that the subsidy from Citibank is in jeopardy. The same is happening in London, where Barclays is considering pulling its funding for the program.

The owner of the shop closest to my home says his lost revenue puts his business in serious jeopardy. I'm not even sure he should stay open, given his colossal competition (Citibike). I don't see how he can.

Mar. 25 2014 10:32 AM
art525 from Park Slope

Wow that is a whole lot more than I need to know about citibikes. You just spent a half hour telling us what could have been said in five minutes. Yes citibikes has financial problems, got it. And then you are totally dismissive of someone who thinks citibikers are bad riders. I'm gald we are having such an open disucussion. And finally, Andrea Bernstein's voice is just so shrill.

Mar. 25 2014 10:30 AM
hicoachrich from UWS

expand locations to UES & UWS, raise annual fee, add to high-volume locations, extend time for usage! make it for tourists. make it available to NY'ers who dont live in midtown.
I moved to UWS and was shocked not to see any bikes---Murray Hill had them everywhere---and how about crowd sourcing funds...

Mar. 25 2014 10:28 AM
Bob from Westchester

Several foreign visitors have complained to me that they can't use their credit cards at MetroCard machines and gas station pumps, because the transaction requires you to enter the zip code of your billing address (which of course they do not have). Is this also a problem with Citibike?

Mar. 25 2014 10:27 AM
erica from Chelsea

Citi Bike is fantastic even with all of its flaws. (And the docking problems still exist even tho the software has improved greatly. Last week on my lunch break I docked my bike, did an errand and then went to get on a bike to ride back to work but the system wouldn't let me take out a bike. A phone call to the 800 # informed me that the system was still showing I had a bike out despite the fact that I found my bike in the station I had parked it at locked into its dock. So flawless it is not. Not by a long shot.) Biking is by far the most efficient way of getting around the city -- and the bike share is right up there in efficiency and cost-effectiveness. NYC has got to find a way to keep this going. I am an annual (and founding) member and I would pay more, but with all the money floating around the city and all the boasts that we're the greatest city in the world and such I would not accept a huge hike in rates.

As for poor Citi Bike riders, yes, they are out there. For example: I have seen a drunk Citi Biker late at night riding along Hudson River Park weaving his way down the path taking selfies. But come on, there are also dangerous pedestrians, dangerous cabbies, dangerous car drivers, dangerous bicyclists. I don't think Citi Bike riders are worse than their fellow New Yorkers.

Let's keep Citi Bike running!

Mar. 25 2014 10:27 AM
s from brooklyn

I'm not sure which city Kate Hinds is reporting on, but in nyc, Citibikers are universally the worst behaved cyclists on the road.

Mar. 25 2014 10:26 AM

I got it! CitiAffordableHealthCare!

Mar. 25 2014 10:26 AM
Harlem CitiBiker from 125

I live in Harlem and still get lots of use out of CitiBike as a last mile option. Taking the subway to the first stop near a dock and using bikes around the dense zone is very convenient and cuts out biking the long stretch from 125 to Midtown, Downtown or Brooklyn (especially appreciated this Winter).
CitiBike is less than a year old and is a huge success given how complex the system needs to be. Any study of how it's used will find that focusing on regular users as opposed to tourists, doubling the annual fee (or even raising it to $250) and increasing density in the existing zone then slowly expanding it will help it become an irreplaceable part of the public transport matrix.

Mar. 25 2014 10:26 AM
Aquilino from Westchester, NY

I'm a pretty smart person and the time I tried to use the system for a day ride, I wasn't even able to get a bike. There were six or so bikes in the docks that day, but none released (supposedly the lights gave some indication, but there's no explanation anywhere). I called the support number and was given credit for the day, but I was not given a refund. I may try again, but that experience left a negative impression.

Mar. 25 2014 10:25 AM

Great branding, Citi!

What's your next branding target -- CitiCigs? CitiChristie? CitiMisdimeanors?

Mar. 25 2014 10:25 AM
brian french from nyc

So why not jut replace citibike docks with better bike racks so people can leave their bikes securely? Hire a security service and charge for parking. No technolgy needed.

Mar. 25 2014 10:20 AM

Brian, could you do a segment on how Citibikes are ridden? I have nearly been hit by a number of riders who clearly are not paying attention to the rules of the road. Thanks!

Mar. 25 2014 10:19 AM
Blythe from NYC

For such heavily subsidized transit in the metro area (MTA, LIRR, Metro North) the cost sure are high!!!:~/

Mar. 25 2014 10:18 AM

Citibike is a terrible idea. Buy your own bicycle, used if you can't afford a new one. Adjust it to fit your body and ride it however and whenever you want. Another example of governmental synthetic freedom. Kudos to Brian for having his own bike.

Mar. 25 2014 10:18 AM
Kent from Hell's Kitchen

I am an annual member and would renew my membership ONLY if Citibike improves the software and got better at balancing where they put the bikes. No matter what time I commute, there are rarely bikes available near my home on west side of Manhattan and then when I arrive near work on east side of Manhattan there is nowhere to park. When I leave work , no matter what time of dayit is the exact same problem in reverse. You don't want to ride around looking for a bike parking spot every day, then spend minutes digging ice out of a dock (the phone ap is nearly useless btw) during the winter that refuses to end.

Mar. 25 2014 10:17 AM
Moonwalker from Brooklyn, NY

The City Bike map shows that it is only available in certain areas. They aren't easily accessible to anyone in Brooklyn living below Atlantic Avenue.

Mar. 25 2014 10:17 AM
Sue from Harlem

Living and working in Harlem, I'm shut out of the bike share system since there aren't any docks up here, so…I got no dog in this race. And I'm not very happy about it. Just as we got screwed out of being able to get a cab up here before the (much appreciated) green cabs, we've been screwed out of being able to take advantage of bike share. So, to hell with it, IMHO!

Mar. 25 2014 10:16 AM
Eli from East Village

I'm going to renew my CitiBike membership and I would gladly pay more. It has been a huge quality of life improvement for me. I moved to NYC a few years ago from the Bay Area where I rode my bike every day for everything. Doing so on my own bike here in New York proved impractical but CitiBike is an ideal solution. I've saved hundreds of dollars in MTA fares and generally seek to CitiBike whenever I can both for fitness and fastness. My only beef is that I couldn't pay for CitiBike using my commuter flex spending account (I tried).

Mar. 25 2014 10:16 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Anybody else totally turned off by the overwhelming Citigroup branding on the bikes? I probably would have patronized by now if I wasn't so repulsed by the promotion of this economy breaker...

Mar. 25 2014 10:15 AM
Giovanni from Manhattan

Do the math, CitiShills: The discount on the annual pass which almost everyone is using vs the daily pass is ridiculous. A daily is $10 while the annual is $95, which comes out to just 26 cents a day! That's killing the revenue stream, and how do you add more riders when there aren't enough bikes for those in the program already?

New Yorkers obviously figured this out and quickly switched from buying the daily pass to the annual, which many of them share with each other, further reducing revenue per rider.

And surprise, tourists don't ride in bad or cold weather, and probably don't like the penalty that adds up to paying $35 for a 2 hour ride, or a third the cost of an annual plan. They would probably rather rent a regular bike at those prices.

And finally many people have likely abandoned the program and either decided they didn't like riding in our dangerous streets, the system was too undependable and was making them late or stressed out when going to work due to docking station issues, or they bought their own much nicer bike and a lock like everyone else. There is
no stress when you own your own and can lock it anywhere.

So they either take over every remaining parking space and jack up the annual plan to at least $200-$300, give daily riders more time to ride and a better price point like $5 plus a dollar for every extra half hour, or they sell those blue monsters to their rapidly dwindling fan base before no one wants them. We could always dump them in the river and form a reef for the fishes, that would be poetic.

Mar. 25 2014 10:14 AM
Alan from Rockaway Beach

If you're going to subsidize the bikes with tax payer money, then let's see the bikes come to the lower income neighborhoods as well. I never saw any city bikes at Rockaway.

Mar. 25 2014 10:12 AM

Please tell Ms. Bernstein that her upspeak is very annoying.

Mar. 25 2014 10:11 AM
dorothy from Manhattan

Rudi from Queens said pretty much what I wanted to say -- All the time (seriously) I see tourists trying to decide whether to go left or right (i.e. east or west) -- and just try to imagine that indecision on a bike. Visitors are often in groups of several people -- is a bike a logical way to travel for a group? I doubt it.

Perhaps the Bloomberg people should have been told about the ice and snow of this winter. Evidently they didn't know about it.

Finally Washington and Paris are much smaller than New York -- In Wash. you can ride down the Mall and have your destination in sight. In NY there's no way for a visitor to know how long it's going to take to go from the Met Museum to MOMA or from Central Park to the WTC.

Mar. 25 2014 10:11 AM
John S from Manhattan

No NYC subsidy...Is that really true. How much is the city giving up/losing from parking meter fees from the lost parking spaces that are taken by the Citibike docks?

Does Citybike pay rental on the space?


Mar. 25 2014 10:11 AM
Aaron B from Bed-Stuy

How much would a comparable city wide advertising campaign that exists year round blanketing so much of key NYC advertising real estate? How much does Citibank actually pay? According to the NYTimes, Citibank only pays $41 million. This is a pittance compared to such advertising campaigns otherwise. The program is $50 million in the hole? Great. This campaign SHOULD cost Citibank at least $100 million. Problem solved.

Mar. 25 2014 10:10 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Hey, don't worry! Global warming will soon make Citi Bike profitable.
LOL, any minute now.

Mar. 25 2014 10:09 AM
Tracy Kahley from Hell's Kitchen, NYC

A daily user of CitiBike regardless of the temperature. It has its glitches, but it's an amazing program nonetheless, for those of us living in tiny 5-floor walk-ups who have dreamt of riding a bike in NYC. Will absolutely renew.

Tracy Kahley

Mar. 25 2014 10:09 AM
Pedro from Parkchester

I live in the Bronx and wish it was more extensive, but I still am a yearly member at a credit union member fee. I can go downtown via subway and go to appointments and visit friends and get around all downtown with it. More people should use it. I think it should be eligible for federal funding and ultimately expanded as CityBike.

Mar. 25 2014 10:07 AM
Rudi from Queens

I wrote: "barely less than 2 round-trips or a 7-day unlimited pass."

Hopefully readers realize I am comparing to Metrocard mass transit trips.

Mar. 25 2014 10:03 AM
Sara from Harlem

Should be publicly funded, it is a great extension of the public transportation system.

Lots of misleading information.

Let me throw one thing into the discussion that many are not aware of:

The Staten Island Ferry is free.

Mar. 25 2014 10:03 AM

Maybe 24-hour ridership will go up when it's not 5 degrees and snowing.

Mar. 25 2014 09:54 AM


Ah yes, there's that CITI brand, fake it till ya break it…

Mar. 25 2014 09:50 AM
Rudi from Queens

On what basis did the bean counters figure tourists would be heavy Citibike users, anyway?

1. The $10/day or $25 is barely less than 2 round-trips or a 7-day unlimited pass. Why would a tourist take a bike? To ride in Manhattan traffic?
2. Do tourists feel comfortable riding in Manhattan traffic? Some don't feel comfortable **walking** in it!
3. To a tourist, time isn't just money, it's irreplaceable. Subways and even buses are faster.
4. On mass transit, you can talk with your fellow traveler(s).
5. Tourists are famously the only ones in Manhattan who look up. Can't do that while riding a bike.
6. How many tourists know if they will reach their destination within half an hour. Or even where that destination (and Citibike location) is? What if they see something interesting along the way? The additional cost for overtime is very high.
7. One benefit of riding in NYC is exercise. It's a valid reason for bike commuting. But what tourist came here for exercise? Many of them don't even exercise back home.

By the way, I own a bike and in good weather ride it several times a week, for local shopping and exercise. But not in Manhattan.

Mar. 25 2014 09:44 AM

"After months and After months and months of rosy reports about ridership, reports last week show that Citi Bike is actually in big financial trouble. How did this happen? , reports last week show that Citi Bike is actually in big financial trouble. How did this happen? . . . "

I hope the "reporters" you have on the show today are not the reporters who have been responsible for the " . . . months and months of rosy reports about ridership . . . "

Ms. Hinds' November 05, 2013 report on "Citi Bike's First Five Months"
[ ]
contained no mention of any financial troubles being experienced by this "popular-among-the-progressives" program (when did Ms. Hinds and Ms. Bernstein begin to file stories on Citi Bike's potential financial short falls?
I'm sure this thread will be adequately covered by your "as usual" probing questions.

{I did a cursory review of Ms. Bernstein's coverage of the "Bike" boondoggle and it seems she identified some financial problems the Canadian software company was having back in January [ ] but perhaps she's been too occupied with the Christie hijinks in New Jersey too concentrate on yet another SNAFU involving the failure of multimillion dollar software contracts. (Maybe "City-Time" and "" were not such remarkable failures after all?)
It seems that WNYC might explore assigning a supervised team of radio interns to assist in reporting this story, and the CitiBike managers might do better holding a "hak-a-thon" for NYC resident software engineers to develop needed software. But hey, maybe I'm just naive.)

Mar. 25 2014 03:51 AM

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