Citi Bike program in financial trouble

Joe Torres reports from Midtown
March 21, 2014 3:27:08 PM PDT
You probably see Citi Bikes all across Manhattan and Brooklyn, but the popular bike sharing program is in danger.

It's not making enough money and it may be up to tourists to save the program.

It's hard to ride the bike if you can't undock the bike. Just ask Jhon Pichardo, a bike messenger with an annual bike pass. He tried several bikes at the Whitehall and Water Street docking station with no luck.

"I just have trouble sometimes docking the bike. Bikes are messed up and all that stuff. (What happens?) I can't take them out or they won't dock, so I have to go to another dock," Pichardo said.

Along with the docking problems, the popular bike share program also faces much larger financial problems. Too many tourists have trouble purchasing daily passes, which is the program's big money-maker.

Maintenance troubles and software glitches add to the fiscal and operational challenges.

"The rebalancing of the stations is not happening so if you want a bike, often the bike isn't there for you. And if you want to park your bike, there often isn't a space available to park your bike," said Paul Steely White, of Transportation Alternatives.

A snow-filled winter certainly didn't help matters. The folks at Transportation Alternatives say all the problems have to be ironed out before the city can lure additional sponsors to join CitiGroup and help ease the financial burden.

"I don't think the lack of investment is because of any branding issues. It's because of the fact that people still see there are some pretty serious issues with the operations, solvable issues. So let's solve those and then let's talk about putting it on firmer financial footing," White said.

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