In Addition to Being Broke, Citi Bike is Falling Into Disrepair

Photo via AN Blog

After news last week that Citi Bike is “hemorrhaging” money in spite of its general success, more bad news for the program: the Daily News reports that its operating company Alta Bike share has fallen way behind on cleaning and repairing the bikes and docks, violating its contract with the city.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg told the paper, “There have been significant financial and operational issues, including redistribution of bikes to where the riders are, and technology, resulting in malfunctioning stations and failed credit card transactions.” And the data (provided by Alta) isn’t great:

The number of broken docks repaired within 48 hours fell from a lackluster 64% in August to just 50% in January and to 56% in February, even though Alta’s six-year contract demands a 99% repair rate, according to monthly reports filed by company with the city’s Department of Transportation.

Every bike is supposed to receive a mechanical check once a month, but in January only 45% of the nearly 6,000 bikes in the fleet received a once-over, and in December only 34% were examined, Alta’s self-reported numbers show.

There have also been problems cleaning up vandalized bikes and stations—98 percent of bikes are supposed to be cleaned within four days of a problem, and the going rate is more like 37 percent—and in February, only 8 percent of damaged stations were repaired within the appropriate time frame.

The city has been particularly bothered by recurring issues with the system’s credit card machines, and problems re-distributing bikes to stations throughout the city. And they won’t be throwing money at the problem any time soon: de Blasio explicitly stated last week that the city will ” collaborate with them to help them find ways to be more efficient and more effective,” but won’t be giving them cash to stay afloat in the early years, as they have with the East River Ferry. Still, Trottenberg stated, “We expect the system’s operator, NYC Bike Share, to resolve these issues so the system can perform effectively and ultimately expand.”

And we expect to hear news about a forthcoming fare hike sooner rather than later.

Follow Virginia K. Smith on Twitter @vksmith.

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