Friday, March 21, 2014

Citi Bikes: They're Going Broke

Photo: MK Metz.
Last October, then-Mayor Bloomberg attributed the early losses suffered by his Citi Bike program to the costs of getting the system up and running.

"“It’s a ways to commute, it’s a mass transit system that requires no federal, state, or city monies whatsoever,” Bloomberg said. “If they make money we’re going to share in the profits. So, you know, everybody should be happy with this.”

Now that Bloomberg is gone, the Wall Street Journal reports that Citi Bike is broke and its leaders are trying to raise tens of millions of dollars to rescue the program.

The WSJ analyzes what went wrong and it's a lot: computer glitches, inability to get the bikes where they need to be, the necessity to load new batteries into the charging stations, layoffs cutting into customer service, lack of secondary sponsors, and more.

And another thing: tourists -- who would pay the big bucks for the day passes -- aren't using the bikes as much as the city thought they would. And when they do, the kiosks frequently won't accept payment.

Business Mayor: What happened to the business plan?

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