Streams

Public Advocate: Use City $ to Save Citi Bike

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 04:09 PM

WNYC
Citibikes parked in front of The Apple Store in midtown Manhattan. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

Public Advocate Leticia James told reporters at a roundtable conversation on Wednesday that Mayor Bill de Blasio should consider using public funds to keep Citi Bike afloat.

De Blasio has said he wants Citi Bike to succeed. But he ruled out a public subsidy last month, when it was first reported that Citi Bike is losing money and looking to raise tens of millions of dollars to stay solvent.

But James declared the city should take aggressive steps to help Citi Bike survive. "Whatever it takes," she said. "It's great for our environment and it's great for our community. I would hope that the mayor does all he can to not only to save this program but to expand it."

The city Department of Transportation has postponed a planned expansion of Citi Bike into parts of Upper Manhattan and Queens. The department has also resisted a proposal floated by Citi Bike's operator to raise the price of an annual membership from $95 to $140.

When reporters pressed James on whether she thought the best way to bail out Citi Bike was by using city funds, she declined to go that far. "I think what we need to do is put everything on the table and have a robust discussion of how to save the program," she said.

Citi Bike has proven popular โ€” nearly 100,000 annual members have signed up โ€” but it has been plagued by setbacks, including software glitches, damage to equipment by Sandy and severe winter weather.

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Comments [13]

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

How about Bloomberg and JSK come up with the money themselves since they were the ones boasting it themselves especially when Bloomberg had the money to help fight the NRA?

Apr. 18 2014 01:31 PM
Bronx from NYC

"Really? Exactly how? What is the great benefit? Lemme guess (thumbing through TA talking points)... Oh, it gets people out of their (hack, spit!) cars and onto bikes! Right... As if car-commuting suburbanites are suddenly taking mass transit because they can ride Citibikes around midtown?"

Citi Bike:

-Improves overall public health
-Improves street safety through awareness
-Increases public mobility (physical fitness)
-Increases commerce
-Increases accessibility
-Encourages more bicycling which multiplies effects
-Reduces commute times
-Reduces congestion on other modes of transportation
-Replaces transportation modes

"Oh, OK. "People who understand". People smarter than me, people who know best. Those people. Yeah, I guess I'll go along with that..."

Precisely.

Apr. 17 2014 10:39 PM
CycloRealist from NYC

"This service (Citi Bike) is greatly beneficial to NYC"

Really? Exactly how? What is the great benefit? Lemme guess (thumbing through TA talking points)... Oh, it gets people out of their (hack, spit!) cars and onto bikes! Right... As if car-commuting suburbanites are suddenly taking mass transit because they can ride Citibikes around midtown?

"People who understand transportation and development in this city realize this."

Oh, OK. "People who understand". People smarter than me, people who know best. Those people. Yeah, I guess I'll go along with that...

Apr. 17 2014 08:31 PM
Bronx from NYC

Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg and JSK neither promised nor should anyone have expected for Citi Bike to remain privately financed. It was a good try, but there is a real possibility that it will receive public funds.

Suburban living is much more heavily subsidized in comparison to urban living. Your population cannot fund your infrastructure in taxes. Gas is priced way below what is appropriate among other things. I won't even begin on environmental impact and energy usage.

This service (Citi Bike) is greatly beneficial to NYC. People who understand transportation and development in this city realize this.

Apr. 17 2014 08:06 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Bronx, nowhere in my comments did I say that I hate bicycles nor wanting them off the road. I can easily say that you are a career car hater by such logic. Anyway, the point of this was that Citibike was supposes to have no subsidies whatsoever, and Bloomberg and JSK made a big promise on that. My only suggestion was that I don't see why your group just doesn't come up with the money or even from Mark Gorton or Paul Steely White themselves if you want it to stay so much. Seeing that personal attack shows that you don't want to shill anything for it. Then again, it makes no sense if you own a bicycle to begin with. On a side note, nothing in my suburban lifestyle is subsidized, and I do pay taxes to the state to help keep your transit fares so low, so thanks for nothing.

Apr. 17 2014 07:49 PM
Bronx from NYC

Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY: Career hater of bicyclist.

Get a new hobby.

We could improve the city dramatically if we stopped subsidizing your suburban lifestyle.

Oh the irony...

Apr. 17 2014 07:18 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

If you guys really want to keep this afloat, then how about coming up with the money yourselves or at least get your bike zealot groups to fund it if you believe in it so much?

Apr. 17 2014 06:11 PM
Bronx from NYC

"De Blasio did not rule out a public subsidy. He has qualified his statements by saying he would not commit city funds "at this time," which suggests he's open to the possibility should circumstances change."

This. Absolutely correct.

It also makes sense. First open the books and analyze what the management problems are at Bike Share LLC before injecting funding.

It makes sense to subsidize this form of transportation. Especially if it will lead to expansion. The city benefits greatly from increased usage.

Apr. 17 2014 03:29 PM
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY

Once again, another promise by Bloomberg has been broken. Both he and JSK promised no subsidies to this programs, and now there is a push for that, but that's Bloomberg for you. If de Blasio wants to show that he's not like Bloomberg, he shouldn't be giving any subsidies for this. No other program that required membership is subsidized and that includes Zipcacar or even gym memberships, so I don't see what makes Citibike so different. Just face reality already and let this program die if it can't succeed on its own rather than place it on life support. There are more important things that taxpayer dollars should be going to rather than this and that includes public schools and hospitals that really serve the public.

Apr. 17 2014 01:18 PM
Cyclist from NYC

Did Tish write that copy herself, or did Transportation Alternatives write it for her?

99% of all new Yorkers have never ridden a Citibike. So, how is that considered "popular"? If PA James had a 1% approval rating, would she call herself a popular elected official?

Nobody subsidizes my bike commute. Why should I subsidize a bikeshare system that's unsustainably underpriced, and whose typical users (according to DOT/DOH's collected demographics) earn six-figure incomes?

The obvious answer is to price memberships at a level that at least reaches the break-even point. If Citibike gets taxpayers' money on the premise that this is "public transportation", then users should start paying $2.50 a trip, just like other mass transit users.

Apr. 17 2014 11:34 AM
TOM from Brooklyn

Don't let's find out if it is a real rat hole. They're burning a lot of cash without explanation. Boston Hubway is turning a profit. How about that PR firm in Montreal taking 10% off the top of the sponsorships. Will they get on the NYC teat? The contract should have been killed as soon as they ditched the software provider that was part of the deal. Nothing but promises and troubles since.

Bloomberg & Sadik-Khan sold it by saying it won't cost the taxpayers anything. Bait n' switch? Or just an outright fraud perpetrated on NYC taxpayers?

BTW: The old commissioner has been very quiet since she went to work over at the Bloomberg store. Lost her media-savvy voice?

Apr. 17 2014 11:25 AM
Doug G. from Brooklyn, NY

De Blasio did not rule out a public subsidy. He has qualified his statements by saying he would not commit city funds "at this time," which suggests he's open to the possibility should circumstances change.

Apr. 17 2014 11:19 AM
Tyson White from New York, NY

Glad to have councilpersons like Tish in NYC. We need more progressives to balance out the morons. Thank you!

Apr. 17 2014 10:25 AM

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