Thursday, July 03, 2014 – 01:33 PM
By Kate Hinds
New York’s financially beleaguered bikeshare system may have a white knight, but any deal to save the program could be weeks or months away. Which means riders will have to struggle with empty (or full) docks, buggy software and a limited coverage area at least until the fall, sources familiar with the talks to save the popular yet frustrating program tell WNYC.
Citi Bike is just months away from running out of money, even though it has over 100,000 annual members. Now, rescue may be coming in the form of REQX Ventures, an investment company formed earlier this year by principals at Equinox Fitness, a chain of fitness centers, and its real estate parent company, Related.
Sources close to the negotiations say REQX is in talks with the city to purchase a majority stake in Alta, the Portland-based company that currently operates New York’s bike share system.
The cash infusion is intended to expand Citi Bike, improve its management and fix software that has infuriated users. While details of the contract are still being worked out, the cost of an annual membership could go up – but the city will likely cap just how high they can go.
Both the mayor’s office and a spokesperson for the Related Companies declined to comment.
BikeShare is a good barometer of the actual acceptance and sustainability of bicycle commuting and transport. If it cannot survive as BikeShare it is unlikely that bike commuting will ever be more than a fad. This is especially true of periods other than summer.