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System Glitches Delaying Launch Of NYC’s Much Anticipated Bike Share Program To March 2013

Photo courtesy of Gothamist.com.

After a lot of disappointment that New York City’s Citi Bikes bike share program didn’t roll out last month as promised, we now know that technology glitches in the network were to blame.

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg alluded to software problem as to the reason for the delay earlier this month on his morning radio show and told the New York Times that, “The software doesn’t work” and that they weren’t “going to put it out until it does work.”

The mayor’s office further announced that the “system will launch in March 2013 with an initial phase of 7,000 bikes implemented at 420 stations. The timeline, agreed to by all parties, does not affect the Citi Bike sponsorship structure.”

The sponsorship will provide $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system for five years. Citi will benefit by having exclusive rights to branding all of the bikes and docking stations.

The mayor’s office says the Citi sponsorship will allow the bike share program to operate at a low cost to consumers and at no expense to taxpayers.

While nothing is set in stone, as we have seen, the city also says that with regard to user costs, “Membership in New York’s bike share system will be affordable, with an annual membership cost of less than $100 – less than a monthly unlimited–ride Metro Card. Day and weekly membership will also be available.”

“Membership will entitle users to an unlimited number of free short duration trips, potentially as long as 45 minutes, while longer trips will be charged according to a small graduated usage fee. Exact rates will be determined after a contract is finalized,” added the mayor’s office.

When the bike share service finally does fully roll out, the city says there will be “approximately 10,000 bikes distributed at 600 locations in parts of Manhattan as well as in neighborhoods spanning northwest Brooklyn at locations to be determined on consultation with community boards, elected officials and local stakeholders. Options for additional stations in other boroughs will also be explored.”

Long Island City is among the additional places discussed for the bike share service.

The NYC bike share service will be a subsidiary of Alta Bicycle Share, which will operate the system.

The city said that “the system will fill in the gaps in the transit system with a network of durable bikes available at self-service stations located every few blocks. New Yorkers and visitors can pick up a bike at any station, ride to their destination, and drop off the bike at the nearest available station.”

“Bikes will be available 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year. In addition, smartphone apps will make use of the system’s wireless technology, allowing users to find out about bike and station availability in real time,” added the mayor’s office.

Alta said that, “The solar-powered, wireless docking stations will be located on sidewalks, curbside road space, plazas, and other locations suggested through the community process. Each station will be able to accommodate between 15 and 60 bikes.”

Alta will be responsible for all system operations, including installation, maintenance, repairs, cleaning, and customer support. Alta will split the profits from the service with the city.

Alta is a global bike share company and the equipment that will be used in New York City is also being used by the company in Boston, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., Montreal, Toronto, and London.

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