If all had gone according to plan, the city in partnership with Citibank would have launched 10,000 bikes for rent in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City. But, the Department of Transportation now says due to a software issue the bikes won’t launch until March 2013.
In the meantime New York City Bike Share, a subsidiary of the Portland, Ore.-based operating company, Alta, will work on fine tuning high-performance software necessary to operate the new system, according to the DOT.
“Obviously, like everyone else, I’m disappointed,” Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) said. “The reason for the delay is beyond city control and really lies with the provider. I agree with the city that we need to do it right and you can’t launch the program until we know it’s going to work.”
The system uses new solar power arrays and circuit boards. Engineers will continue to test data communications, power management and payment systems.
The new agreement will provide 7,000 bikes in the three boroughs next year. The timeline does not affect the Citi Bike sponsorship, which uses $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system for five years.
New York City Bike Share will split profits with the city. Following the March launch the program is planned to be expanded to 10,000 bikes.
“New York City demands a world-class bike share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on day one,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
Transportation Alternatives Executive Director Paul Steely White agrees that a solid opening is critical: “While we are eager for Citi Bike to begin, it’s more crucial that this ground-breaking transit system be launched correctly, not quickly. In time, the circumstances of Citi Bike’s launch will be all but forgotten and we’ll all be enjoying a city made safer, healthier and less congested.”
Participants will pay $95 a year to join the program, which will give them unlimited use of the bicycles for rides of up to 45 minutes. Members using them for a longer time will pay graduated fees to do so.
Daily and weekly memberships will also be available. Participants have to be at least 16 years old. They will borrow the bicycles from and return them to stations that will be installed throughout LIC, Brooklyn and Manhattan.