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Alta Bike Share

Transportation Nation

Bankruptcy of Bike Share Company Will Not Immediately Affect Systems in U.S. Cities

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

WAMU

Montreal's bike share company, which also supplies equipment and technology to the largest bike share systems in the U.S., has filed for bankruptcy—but transportation officials in the U.S. say that won't have any immediate impact on operations.

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Transportation Nation

Feds Investigating Alta Bicycle Share Over DC Pay Dispute

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

KALW

After Capital Bikeshare employees complained about unfair wage practices, the Department of Labor opened an investigation into Alta Bicycle Share -- the company operating bike share systems in New York, D.C., and Boston.

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Transportation Nation

Bike Sharing is Coming to San Francisco and Silicon Valley

Monday, March 25, 2013

A D.C. bike share station (photo by flickr user James D. Schwartz)

Bike share is rolling into the Bay Area this summer.

In August, Alta Bicycle Share will launch 700 bikes at 70 stations. Half the bikes will be in San Francisco; the rest will be distributed throughout Palo Alto, San Jose, Redwood City, and Mountain View. The project is being led by the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (known as the Air District), along with the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and other local transit agencies.

Related: Your Bike Goes Here: BART Welcoming Bikes on Trains All Week

Aaron Richardson, a spokesperson for the Air District, said Bay Area residents should expect to see the number of bikes increase quickly.

“We will be growing, this is the initial amount in the pilot,” he said. “We’re actively searching for more funding and sponsorships.” The pilot will cost $7 million. The Air District's website calls for an additional 250 bikes to roll out in the months following the program's launch.

Alta Bicycle Share already runs Boston’s Hubway, Washington DC’s Capital Bikeshare, and other programs in Chattanooga and Melbourne, Australia. The company also has the contract for New York's incipient program. Both Hubway and Capital Bikeshare have proven popular, with Capital Bikeshare logging over three million rides since it was launched in 2010.

Related: The Secret Routes of Silicon Valley Company Shuttles

Kristin Smith is the communications director for the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, which has been a big supporter of the the project. She said the Coalition was hoping for more bikes to jumpstart the program. She noted that Washington DC started a bike share program with moderate success in 2008, but when the city joined forces with Arlington County, VA in 2010 and dramatically increased the size of its fleet, Capital Bikeshare really took off.

“That’s a thing to think about,” she said, “not starting too small.” But “we are very excited about bike share. It works all over the world, and it will work in San Francisco.”

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Transportation Nation

NY's Rocky Road to a Bike Share Sponsor -- or Why The Rollout Will Take Longer Than Planned

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan at the rollout of New York's "Citibike" bike share. (Photo: Andrea Bernstein)

When New York  Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson and New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced New York's bike share program last fall, the intention was clear -- they were setting up "a new system to be comprised of 10,000 bikes and 600 stations in parts of Manhattan and northwest Brooklyn -- at no cost to the taxpayers" as Sadik-Khan put it then.

The system, it was explained, needed to be large to make it work -- the more potential users could depend on finding bikes in a variety of locales, the more it would be an actual public transportation network -- not some urban folly.

But when the system was presented Monday under its brand new-name, Citibike, to be funded through a five-year, $41 million contract with Citibank and a $6.5 million Mastercard sponsorship, it was somewhat less extensive -- at least at first.  "It will be a phased-in deployment," Sadik-Khan said at Monday's press conference.  "I mean we can’t just airdrop 10,000 bikes in. It will be between August and spring of 2013 that we'll have the deployment of the full system."

The bike share program, it turned out, would NOT hit the Upper West Side, Upper East Side, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, or much of Brooklyn beyond Bergen Street until a year from now.

Sadik-Khan wouldn't explain why, or when, this decision was made.   No other DOT officials would speak to this issue, implying that this was always the plan. When I asked Alta president Alison Cohen about delays in implementing the program, Sadik-Khan's spokesman rushed over to prevent her from answering.

But speaking to elected leaders, officials and several sources familiar with negotiations over the bike share contract, a story has emerged of a far more rocky road to a sponsor than yesterday's happy news conference would suggest.

"I got a call sometime last week, that’s when I first heard of  a delay," said Council member Gail Brewer, who represents the Upper West Side. Brewer says she was told there would be 7,000 bikes rolled out at first, with the balance coming next spring. Was she disappointed? Brewer, a big bike share backer, was philosophical.  "I'll be disappointed if I don't get my day care slots back," Brewer said, referring to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed budget. "You have to have priorities."

When the city announced that Alta Bicycle Share would be operating the bike share it made one in a series of splashy promises -- there would be no cost to New York taxpayers. "Alta will be getting a sponsor," Sadik-Khan said at the time. That would make New York the only large-scale system in the country to be entirely privately funded.

"We're getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money," Bloomberg said at Monday's press conference. "Who thought that could be done?"

Apparently, there were a lot of doubters. Puma was approached, and Adidas (New Balance has sponsored Boston's "Hubway.") So was American Express. "All the usual suspects," said one source familiar with the negotiations. "The list of companies who could spend this kind of money just isn't that long. And it was unprecedented to raise that kind of capital  for an unproven system --  bike share on European scale, an order of magnitude larger than any system in existence in north America."

By February, officials were beginning to sweat. If New York didn't find a sponsor, the city could be on the hook to Alta -- but worse, many officials thought, the bike share program could be imperiled.

"It's a lot of money and each company has to decide whether the opportunities they'll have by sponsorship fit their clientele," said Bloomberg on Monday, maintaining he never worried.

But Alta's business plan was confusing, sources say, making it hard to reel in the big money. In late winter, the city involved its Economic Development Corporation in the planning, adding some business gravitas to the discussions.   (The EDC is a quasi city agency that usually hands out loans to entities willing to locate or create jobs in New York.)

Ed Skyler, Bloomberg's former Deputy Mayor for Operations (and Sadik-Khan's old boss), is a top Citibank executive. Citibank was lured in.

(Even so, everyone, from the Mayor on down, credits Sadik-Khan. "I never worried," Bloomberg said, "because Janette went after it. And anyone who knows Janette knows if she sets her mind to it it's going to get done.")

Eventually, Citibank was sold. "We think this is a very innovative program that makes people’s lives easier, that’s what we do, that’s what we do as a bank," Vikram Pandit, Citibank's CEO, told me Monday.

Was he worried about controversy surrounding the program? "This is a program supporting bikes, bikes are environmentally friendly, they're good exercise. There’s always controversy  -- but on balance we think this is a great program," Pandit said.

The Citibank contract was signed only two weeks ago -- far later than officials had hoped. Without the contract, there wasn't the upfront capital to get the bikes produced. And that, multiple sources confirm, was the major reason for the delay in getting the bikes to some neighborhoods.

Bike share boosters are, for the most part, expressing just the faintest disappointment at the delay in bringing bike share to the full footprint.

"The reality of implementing an entire transportation network from scratch for a city as large and complicated as New York will obviously require a careful approach," said Transportation Alternatives chief Paul Steely White. "The city is working with local communities to roll out bike share with as little disruption as possible. Sometimes that means revising timelines. The important thing is to keep moving forward and work toward meeting the huge demand for bike share in New York City."

Steely White, Brewer and others are willing to cut the city some slack -- willing to give credence to what the city says. "We said we would find a sponsor.  And we did," mayoral spokesman Marc LaVorgna said. " We're doing something that's never been done before."

When the bright blue bikes were unveiled Monday at City Hall plaza, there were smiles and claps. And the idea of "Citibike" seemed to convey exactly what the city wanted -- these bikes are for transportation, for getting around the city. These are urban bikes. And they are intimately tied with the city's economic future.

"A perfect outcome," Sadik-Khan told me yesterday.   I told her I was guessing she was exhaling right about now. A faint smile played across her lips.

 

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Citibank Is Sponsor of NYC Bike Share, "Citibike." [UPDATED w/Pics and Details]

Monday, May 07, 2012

(Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

New York City has found two sponsors to pay for its bike share program, the only large bike share network  in the country to operate entirely without government subsidies.  When fully implemented in the spring of 2013, New York will have 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, the largest bike share system in North America and one of the largest in the world.

Citibank will be the primary sponsor of the "citibike" bike share program, with a $41 million, 5-year contract.  Mastercard will also kick in $6.5 million, and will operate the payment system for the bikes.

"We're getting an entirely new 24/7 transportation network ," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "We are getting an entirely new transportation network without spending any taxpayer money,"  Bloomberg repeated.  "Who thought that that could be done?"

Bloomberg  himself presided over a bike share announcement for the first time today at a City Hall plaza news conference adorned by sample blue citibikes and a sample docking station.

But today's celebratory announcement was tempered by an acknowledgment that several neighborhoods in the city won't see bike share until 2013.

"It's going to be a phased deployment," Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said at the announcement.   "I mean we can't just airdrop 10,000 bikes in.  So it will be between August and the Spring of 2013 that we will have the full system."

The city's DOT website says  "In 2012, the operating area will include Manhattan south of 59th Street, along with most of Brooklyn north of Bergen Street, and Long Island City in Queens. In the spring of 2013, the system will expand to include parts of the Upper West and East Sides, Cobble Hill, Park Slope, Prospect Heights and Crown Heights."

Sadik-Khan wouldn't say when the decision was made to to delay deployment in most of Brooklyn.

New York City's bike share program will be called citibike (with a new website)
They are the same model as those in other cities with programs also run by the Alta bicycle share company: baskets in the front, built-in lights in front and back with a thick single bar for the frame. Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said the docking stations will be solar powered and wireless, and the program will launch "end of July."

It will cost $95 a year to join the bike share program, $25 for a weekly membership or $9.95 for a 24 membership.  Annual members will get to use the bikes for up to 45 minutes at no charge, which daily members will get to use them for up to 30 minutes for free.

After the that the price scale will escalate sharply upwards, with the bikes becoming increasingly expensive the longer they're used. (For example, if you keep the bike 24 hours, it will cost $150)   Pricing, meant to encourage short-term, one-way hops that keep the bikes in circulation, is consistent with other cities.

The bank sponsorship makes NYC's bike share stock look a lot like London's where a two tone blue coat marks the Barclay's Bike program. NYC's program will be the biggest in the U.S.

(Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

 

Sample docking station for NYC's Citibike bike share program. (Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

Sample NYC pay station with newly announced sponsorship branding. (Photo by Andrea Bernstein)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

PHOTOS: Scenes from New York City Bike Share Announcement

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

As we reported earlier, New York City announced the vendor for its bike share program.

A bike share station (photo by Kate Hinds)

A close up of the handlebars of one of the sample bikes. Looks like a three speed.

(photo by Kate Hinds)

The formal announcement:

Dan Cantor (Working Families Party), Alison Cohen (President, Alta), Janette Sadik-Khan (NYC DOT Commissioner), Gale Brewer (NYC Council Member), Kathleen Wylde (Partnership for NYC), Paul Steely White (Transportation Alternatives) and Brad Lander (NYC Council Member)

Front view of a bike station:

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Musician -- and bike advocate -- David Byrne was on hand:

David Byrne (photo by Kate Hinds)

So were city politicians.

Gale Brewer, Janette Sadik-Khan, NYC Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson, NYC Council Member Letitia James, and Colvin Grannum, president of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration (photo by Kate Hinds)

Eco-friendly parking stations:

The bike stations are solar powered (photo by Kate Hinds)

Docking instructions:

(photo by Kate Hinds)

A sample payment machine:

(photo by Kate Hinds)

And finally, a joy ride. NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and other city officials make a loop around the plaza in front of reporters.

 Janette Sadik-Khan test-driving one of the bikes (photo by Kate Hinds)

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Transportation Nation

New York Expected To Select Bike Share Vendor By Next Month

Monday, July 11, 2011

Bikeshare users in Washington, DC (Photo: Tara Bahrampour)

New York's bike share program is expected to advance this summer when the city announces its selection of a vendor to run New York's proposed 10,000-bike system. Sources say that the city is in the final stages of the selection program. An announcement could come as soon as this month.

The DOT won't comment, other than to refer reporters to its website, which projects the announcement will come in the summer of 2011.

The full program is slated to be up and running in the spring of 2012. Officials have said a pilot program to test the bikes could be in place as early as this fall.

Under the proposed bike share program, first reported by Transportation Nation last November,  those paying annual or daily membership fees could pick up a bike in one of any number of locations, and drop it off at any other station. City officials expect the system will augment the city's subway system, which is particularly poor at serving riders on the far west and far east sides of Manhattan. Bike share will also allow riders traveling from east to west, who are now constrained to walk or use snail-like crosstown buses, to scoot across town.

New York's is projected to be North America's largest system. The second largest will be Montreal's, with 5,000 bikes, and then Mexico City's, which is looking to expand its 1,300-bike system to nearly 4,000.  Washington, DC, Denver, and Minneapolis all have active bike shares, as do European cities including London, Paris, and Barcelona.

Bike shares have not been without problems. Early systems, like Paris's, were plagued with theft and vandalism, though operators say updated GPS technology has greatly reduced bike losses.

And government officials from cities with established bike shares, like Angel Lopez Rodriguez, Director of Mobility for Barcelona, acknowledge they underestimated the logistical challenges of making sure bikes are evenly distributed around the city.  Lopez Rodriguez says that bike share stations in the hills tend to empty quickly, while those in the flatter, downhill part of Barcelona fill up so users can't find a place to dock their bikes.

But Lopez Rodriguez says he considers his program a success because it's hiking the number of Barcelona residents who regularly bike to 20 percent.

Some bikeshares, like Washington, DC's, offer riders rewards points for returning bikes to the station they checked them out from.

A much-bruited about article in the NY Times also raised questions about the financing of New York's system. But bike-share analysts say New York's system won't be like Paris's or Barcelona's, which are funded by advertising companies, or even like Montreal's, which closes up for the winter.

Instead, they point to Washington, DC's Capital Bikeshare, which has been endorsed by the US Secretary of Transportation, is largely funded through federal clean-air grants, and has some 15,000 members and more than 50,000 casual users.   Alison Cohen, President of Alta Bicycle Share, which operates the DC systems, says the usage levels are surpassing expectations.

The DC program required an upfront investment of $6 million, with 80 percent of that coming from the federal government.

New York has pledged not to use any taxpayer funding for its program. The city's transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, has argued that New York's density and flatness will ensure the financial success of its bike share program.

 

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Montreal Bike Share In Debt; Amtrak to Senate: Gateway Tunnel "Critical" for Region

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Senate Democrats want the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the oil industry is fixing gas prices. (Marketplace). Meanwhile, their proposal to strip oil companies of tax breaks failed in the Senate yesterday (New York Times).

Politico writes: "Republicans have a messaging problem on gas prices. More Americans actually believe in UFOs and ghosts than blame President Barack Obama for causing their pain at the pump."

Montreal's Bixi bike share program, losing money and in debt, needs financial backing from the city. (The Globe and Mail)

Auditions for NYC's "Music Under New York" program were held yesterday; WNYC stopped by to take pictures -- and audio -- of the would-be subway performers. Take a listen!

CNN Money profiles the president of Alta Bike Share, the company behind the bike share programs in Boston and DC.

Workers move closer to their jobs, take transit, buy less, as a result of gas prices:  (New York Times)

Loudoun County officials are exploring what would happen if they withdrew funding for the Metrorail extension to Dulles International Airport. (Washington Post)

The Congressional Budget Office floated a mileage tax at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on “Financing 21st Century Infrastructure.” (The Hill)

Meanwhile, at the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing for the Federal Railroad Administration's budget request, Amtrak president Joseph Boardman said the Gateway Tunnel is "critical" to high-speed rail service. He added:  "I think we're out of capacity in the Northeast Corridor...we have no place to put the New Jersey Transit trains that come into Penn Station." (Video below via Senator Lautenberg, YouTube)

The Freedom Rides turn 50 this year, and two original freedom riders talk will about that activism on today's Brian Lehrer Show. (WNYC)

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- high fuel prices squeeze Montana agencies (link)

-- DC wants to impose fees on intercity bus industry (link)

-- DC's mayor will announce new DDOT head today (link)

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