Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The real Alta problem? Not enough rebalancing crews

It’s really not the number of concurrent NotSpots that best shows how Alta is failing to meet bike-sharers’ needs.

It’s the length of time that it takes to get a station operating after it runs out of bikes. And worse, it’s that Alta knows that the same stations, week in and week out, go out of balance at roughly the same time of day.

Take Manhattan’s baddest NotSpotter, the station at W 52 St & 9 Ave. On nine of the first 15 weekdays this month it ran out of bikes during the morning.

And once W52 runs out of bikes, it has been taking an average 8.6 hours to replenish its docks.

This isn’t software glitches or storm damage or issues with the pricing plans. You can only come to one conclusion when you watch the same station go down and stay down for hours, time after time: Alta is not employing enough people to make rebalancing efficient and effective.

Introducing DK Watch
To bolster our case, we’re instituting a new feature. DK Watch will follow the travails of the DeKalb & Vanderbilt station in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill. Through the end of last week, we recorded 40 instances of the station flatlining. The average time to get DK&V serving bikes again is 7.3 hours.

This screenshot from the Oliver O'Brien map was taken at 1:30 pm today. It is showing that DK&V was down for about three hours starting 21 hours before. After a hiccup of one bike in and out, the station stayed replenished with one, then two bikes. About 5:30 am the station emptied again and remained bikeless until it was rebalanced with 10 bikes at 11 am. Got that? Stay tuned.

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