The largest bike share system in North America is about to get even bigger and, with a major cash infusion, better.
When the Wall Street Journal reported in May that an investment firm formed by partners in the fitness chain Equinox and the real estate firm Related Companies was negotiating for a stake in Alta Bicycle Share, the parent company of New York City Bike Share, an announcement seemed imminent.
Flash forward almost 5 months, and there’s finally official word. Citi Bike and the New York City Department of Transportation on Tuesday announced that the aforementioned partners, now known as Bikeshare Holdings, LLC, have acquired Alta. This opens the way for doubling of the hugely popular, but recently troubled, system’s fleet from the current 6,000 to 12,000 bikes, expansion into more neighborhoods in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn, and upgrading of software and equipment.
The press conference took place in Long Island City to herald the coming of Citi Bike to Queens. Here, in brief, is what you need to know:
1. Fare increase: As rumored, annual membership fees will increase from the current $95 to $149 for unlimited 45-minute rides, 24/7 — or about 40 cents per day.
2. Added membership option: A monthly membership for $20 will be introduced. Casual use rates of $9.99 for 24-hour access and $25 for 7 days remain in effect.
3. Major overhaul of fleet: Citi Bike has announced that is will overhaul the entire fleet of bikes, plus stations and kiosks, over the winter, to help assure that recent issues such as software glitches and cracked seats, are addressed.
By end of 2015: 1,000 additional bikes will fill out Long Island City, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, and Bedford-Styvesant.
By end of 2017: The remainder of the expansion will fill out Manhattan up to 130th Street, Park Slope, Crown Heights and Red Hook in Brooklyn, and parts of Astoria, Queens. (See graphic below.)
5. New leadership: The new CEO of Alta, which will move from Portland, OR to New York City, is Jay Walder, former head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. In an email update following the announcement, Citi Bike praised Walder as “a leader with a deep passion for urban transportation.”
6. Big cash infusion: Expansion will be funded largely through Citi Bank. The company will invest $70.5 million, in addition to its initial investment of $41 million, to extend from 2019 to 2024 its licensing agreement with Alta.
You can submit suggestions for siting 375 additional stations by clicking on the NYC DOT’s “Suggest a Station” portal. Citi Bike will implement an outreach process similar to the comprehensive one it launched prior to initial launch of the system in May of 2013.
For further information: Citi Bike website
Images: Top. Graphic, Citi Bike.