New York's Citibike audit reveals problems

Friday, December 12, 2014
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Tim Fleischer is in Midtown with the details of the audit.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- An audit of New York's bike share program reveals spotty maintenance, poor cleanliness and defective parking stations.

The audit also reveals the bikes are not undergoing required inspections.

With 6,000 Citi Bikes available for some 34,000 rides per day, the bike share program struggles, according to a new audit, with keeping the bikes maintained and problems at parking stations.

"We don't want bikes with flat tires or other deficiencies on the road," Comptroller Scott Stringer said. "Because that causes accidents and creates a dangerous situation."

Stringer's audit found:

--New York City Bike Share failed to complete station inspections

--Cleanliness complaints were not addressed promptly

--Stations were sometimes disconnected from credit card and communications systems

--The Citi Bike mobile application was accurate but not fully reliable

"You have to read an audit that shows that there were some real shoddy practices, lack of oversight, lack of maintenance," String said. "And New Yorkers deserve better."

More and more New Yorkers are using the bikes each day, and several riders have noticed it.

"It definitely went down," one rider said. "It was much better a year ago."

And another daily biker says he has trouble finding bikes in some spots, like near the Port Authority.

"You have to walk up 10 blocks or so," he said. "And there is definotely more broken bikes."

At one particular station on 51st Street, several of the bikes had badly cracked seats and visibly worn tires. But other riders say they've had mostly good experiences.

"When I've had a problem with the bike, you press the button and they come and send the trucks down with the guy to come fix it," one said. "Overall, I've had a good experience with Citi Bike."

Alta Bicycle share, the parent company of NYCBS, has a new incoming CEO, Jay Walder, who said in a statement:

"We agree that while Citi Bike has been hugely popular with New Yorkers, the previous ownership of the company was not able to provide the resources necessary to deliver on its potential."

The company is pledging to make improvements.

"With new ownership and an experienced management team being put in place, we are already beginning the hard work of reinventing Citi Bike," Walder said. "New Yorkers will see a much better service in 2015 and moving forward."

The New York City Department of Transportation released a statement calling the results of the audit into question. City officials contend that the new company was brought in to run Citibike because of these issues, and the study predates all those changes.

"Bike share is headed in the right direction because the de Blasio administration worked throughout this year to bring in a new operator, fresh leadership, and concrete fixes to address Citibike's financial and operational challenges," the statement read. "The Comptroller's audit covers a period predating all those changes. Under our new agreement, Citibike has received a $30 million infusion of private funds, and will double its size from the current 330 stations and 6,000 bikes to over 700 stations and 12,000 bikes by the end of 2017. We engaged in lengthy negotiations in which the City made it clear the new operator must update the software, build out the supply of bikes and expand the service area into more boroughs and neighborhoods. DOT's priority is to make sure the operator runs an improved, accountable and efficient privately-funded system and we look forward to its continued expansion."

The city DOT wants to expand the program from 330 stations and 6,000 bikes to more 700 stations and 12,000 bikes by 2017.

As of last August, Citi Bike riders took about 34,000 rides per day.