New York City's bike-share program is not making money yet, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday. "But they’re not losing a lot.”
The Citi Bike system has logged over 4.5 million trips since its launch last May, and the bright blue bicycles are now seen all over downtown and midtown Manhattan and northern Brooklyn. The mayor compared it to a growing baby, saying "There’s a lot of teething at the beginning. It is, I think, better than anybody had anticipated in terms of usage.” Once the initial startup costs are absorbed, he suggested, the program will make money for the city.
He told the New York Daily News that Alta Bicycle Share, the program that runs the Citi Bike system, is required to share any profits with the city on a 50-50 basis. He praised the program as “a ways to commute" and a mass transit system "that requires no federal, state, or city monies whatsoever.” Bloomberg added, "Everybody should be happy with this.”
It's clear that Citi Bikes are a huge hit with tourists who can be seen pedaling the bikes daily along bike lanes on city streets and in Central Park. A 24-hour access pass is available for $9.95 plus tax and a seven-day pass costs $25 plus tax. Users get 30 minutes free on each ride. (Those with annual memberships get 45 minutes.) Users can return the bike to any docking station and then take it out again to avoid overtime charges.
The program is so popular among New Yorkers themselves that they are clamoring for more docking stations at locations north of 59th Street in Manhattan and in other boroughs. A recent poll by Transportation Alternatives showed that 91 percent of local users wanted the system expanded.