Friday, October 31, 2014

The definitive story on Citi Bike 2.0

To the story

An excerpt

Alta is getting a major cash infusion — $30 million from Bikeshare Holdings LLC, which is led by Equinox CEO Harvey Spevak, Related CEO Jeff Blau, and investor Jonathan Schulhof. Citi has extended its initial $41 million, five-year sponsorship of NYC bike-share by promising an additional $70.5 million through 2024, contingent on system expansion. Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, which has already helped finance Citi Bike, is increasing its credit line to Alta by $15 million. The deal includes $5 million from thePartnership Fund for New York City, an investment fund backed by the city’s big business coalition, to expand Citi Bike to more neighborhoods.

Harlem, south central Brooklyn showing high interest in Citi Bike expansion

See visualisation
Following Citi Bike’s expansion announcement on Tuesday, the  NYC Department of Transportation reopened its Station Suggestion Portal, last used before the bike-share system opened in May 2013.

Unfortunately, DOT didn’t delete the data from that first round, so you can’t really see from its visualisation what people are hoping for in the coming expansion.

So bikeshareNYC built its own map, using the 136 suggestions made in the 24 hours from noon Wednesday to  noon Thursday. (We filtered out 25 suggestions from people who want stations added in the existing service area. That’s wishful thinking!)

Two clusters of high interest stand out -- Harlem and in Brooklyn, the neighborhoods south of Atlantic Ave. from the harbor to Prospect Park.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Social media sputters in anger as Citi Bike reneges on promise to allow $95 renewals

The Citi Bike promise

Then hours later, this crossout appeared on the Citi Bike blog

Facebook and Reddit are full of rants like this one:
“I received an e-mail yesterday about the upcoming rate increase.
The e-mail said, "At this time, you may still renew at the $95 rate. Simply log in to your account and click "renew". We will let you know in the coming days when the rates will increase."

I logged on to renew at the $95 rate this morning and it's already set at $149. No notice, no nothing. Citi Bike better fix this or I won't be renewing my membership.”

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Citi Bike announcement: Member fee to $149, expansion starts in Williamsburg

We have some important updates for you.

Today, we and the NYC Department of Transportation announced some big changes. Our parent company has new owners, and they have named Jay Walder, a leader with a deep passion for urban transportation, as the new CEO of Alta Bicycle Share.

There is also big news for Citi Bike. Our system will double in size by 2017. New communities will be added to our system beginning in 2015 and by the end of 2017 we will have 6000 additional bikes and over 375 new stations. The first new bikes and stations will be installed in northern Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Long Island City and further into Bedford-Stuyvesant, all neighborhoods originally planned to be part of Citi Bike's initial deployment. To suggest a new location for Citi Bike stations, visit the NYCDOT's “Suggest A Station” siting portal and stay tuned for news about other ways to get involved.

Our number one priority is improving the experience for our members. We've heard from you that broken docks, cracked seats and glitches at the kiosks are big concerns. And we've heard that you are eager for us to expand to new neighborhoods so you are able to get more places with Citi Bike. With this change in ownership we are better capitalized and more committed than ever to making Citi Bike work better for you.

NYC Bike Share will use this winter season to overhaul the entire fleet of bikes and service docks and kiosks, ensuring that Citi Bike is ready to roll come spring. We will work closely with the team at Alta Bicycle Share to improve our operations and the technology that powers bike share. And starting immediately we’ll work towards expansion. NYC Bike Share, together with DOT, will begin the community outreach process so New Yorkers can let us know where they think new stations will best serve their communities. We will provide you with regular updates on our progress and look forward to providing you with the service you deserve. 

Finally, we will be changing Citi Bike's membership plans. Our Annual Membership rate will change to $149/year. This means a full year of unlimited Citi Bike rides will cost just a bit more than one monthly MetroCard. At this time, you may still renew at the $95 rate. Simply log in to your account and click "renew". We will let you know in the coming days when the rates will increase.

There will be no change to the $60 Citi Bike Discount Membership for New York City Housing Authority residents and members of participating Community Development Credit Unions.

We will be adjusting prices to more accurately reflect the cost of providing the service and safety that our customers need and deserve. Citi Bike has proven wildly popular. During our peak season our bikes are ridden on average 6 times per day. That’s more than any other bike share system in the world. This popularity is great news for the health and vibrancy of our city, but it has also taken a toll on our ability to balance and service the bikes. With new leadership, fresh capital and a membership rate change, we believe we can meet these challenges and provide you with the kind of bike share system you deserve.

Thank you again for helping to make Citi Bike the biggest bike share program in North America. We are excited to have renewed resources to make this thebest bike share program. We look forward to pedaling with you for many years to come.


The Citi Bike Team

 If you wish to renew using a Citi Bike gift certificate, please contact our Customer Service Center with your gift code and key number.

Why do DeBlasio Admin and @Pollytrott treat Citi Bike owner queries like you’re asking for A-bomb recipe?

To the story
An excerpt
The city is expected to make an official announcement [about 25 mph speed limit soon. However, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg refused to discuss the Alta deal at a press conference earlier today about NYC’s new 25 mph speed limit.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Customer service calls to Citi Bike well off last year's highs

Link to this visualisation

The number of customer service calls handled by Cit Bike peaked in August of last year at 65,798 and this August total calls were 20,000 lower.

Link to this visualisation
Citi Bike appears to have stemmed a trend of growing number of hangups by opening an “overfllow call center” in August. That center handled 9000 of the 45,500 calls and the call abandonment wait -- people who get tired of being on hold and hang up -- dropped to 3 percent from its most recent peak at 14% in May.

Link to this visualisation
Calls per 100 rides are well off last year’s highs.

On Monday at 9:30 am, 25% of Citi Bike stations empty/full

Seventy-five empty stations, seven full. This is the worst performance since May 27, a day that turned out to be the worst day of the year, topping out at 96 NotSpot stations at 10:30 am

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Taking a look at Citi Bike bicycle maintenance month by month

Link to this visualisation

  • Citi Bike started reporting fleet size in March. While most new accounts put the fleet size at 6,000, the number of useable bikes hot a low of 5,066 in August.

  • In-shop maintenance and repairs is trending upward as you’d expect as the fleet ages.

  • In July, Citi Bike appeared to be extraordinarily proactive, checking and/or repairing 5317 of the 5467 bikes in the fleet. Citi Bike started reporting this number in February.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Past week came in at a crummy 42 NotSpot number

Link to this visualisation

It saddens us, it really does, to have to report that for the eighth straight week, our bike-sharing system is mired in mediocrity.

Saddened because Citi Bike proved over the summer, at the yearly height of ridership, that it is capable of providing good to excellent service in terms of keeping filled and empty stations stations to a minimum.

So put Week 42 down for a NotSpot 42. Please note that we don’t include adverse weather days, like Week 42’s rainy Wednesday and Thursday, in the final Index. Instead we substitute the previous week’s affected days.

Source:  NYC Bike Map from The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

Friday, October 24, 2014

Facebook outranks Twitter, but not when it comes to Citi Bike

Globally and in the United States, the site tracking site ranks Facebook as the  No. 2 most popular and Twitter as No. 7. But curiously, when it comes to people interested in Citi Bike, Twitter followers outpace Facebook likes, according to NYC Bike Share’s monthly reports.

We find it fascinating, too, that the base of followers at both sites is expanding at such a consistent pace.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Vandalism to Citi Bikes and stations on the rise

Link to this visualisation
Citi Bike describes acts of vandalism as “including stickers, graffiti, and damage to stations or bicycles.”
While incidents in a single month peaked in May, damage to the system has been rising rather dramatically since last October.
Source:  NYC Bike Share monthly reports

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Overtime fees make up 17% of Citi Bike rent revenue

Link to this visualisation

Folks who were Citi Bike annual members or bought passes last February might want to check their credit card histories.
Half of the system’s revenue from bike rentals that month came from overtime charges. Yes, half. During that icebound month.
And most of that came from annual members.
From its inception in May 2013 through August, Citi Bike had collected $4.5 million in overtime fees -- 17% of the revenue generated by memberships and passes.
Here are Citi Bikes’s explanations of the overtime charges:
For passes After the initial 30 minutes, it's an additional $4 for the second half hour, $9 for the third half hour, and $12 for every half hour after that. A trip begins when a bike is unlocked and ends when a bike is securely returned to any Citi Bike station.

For members After the initial 45 minutes, it's an additional $2.50 for the following half hour, $6.50 for the next half hour, and $9 for every half hour after that. A trip begins when a bike is unlocked and ends when the bike is securely returned to any Citi Bike station.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A look at rebalancing efforts, month by month

Link to this visualisation
Link to this visualisation

  • Instances of empty/full stations peaked last October at 91,629 and the number of bikes rebalanced peaked last September at 83,085.

  • Empty/full stations in July and August, the only two months for which we have comparables,  are running well above last year’s levels.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Crank-o-Meter, last 4 weeks: NotSpots take top spot 2 weeks in row, plus Rant of the Week

  • Complaints about empty/full stations outpaced Abandoned/stolen bikes for second week in a row.

  • Trending up were billing issues, issues, kiosk issues and complaints from pass users that the 30-minute limit is too short.
  • Trending way down were reports of broken bikes.

Rant of the Week

From Facebook
Guys it shouldn't take 5-10 mins to get a bike out of a stand. With only 30 mins of use at a time, you have to race to another station to just get 30 mins of biking. You need to rethink the model or ensure all bikes and stands are in full working order. It took three calls to get a bike back into a stand today.

Eyewitness report: banker doors Citi Biker, hands injured man his card, runs off to meeting

To the story

An excerpt

After hitting the cyclist, the man who doored him, Wagner, emerged from the back of the Lincoln Towncar (that belonged to BPTG Car Service) and quickly pulled him to his feet. Wagner then threw a business card to his driver and took off running towards 54th and Fifth Avenue, even as witnesses yelled at him to come back. “It's just a cut, he's fine,” the staffer told us Wagner said, before adding, “The driver knows me, I ride with him all the time.”

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Link to this visualisation
Link to this visualisation

Holiday weeks plague bike-share system: Past week worst for NotSpots since Memorial Day

  • Citi Bike’s rebalancing efforts continue to deteriorate. This makes  seven straight weeks in the zone of mediocrity.  
  • Recovering from holiday use continues to plague the system. This week of Columbus Day was the worst performance since the week of Memorial Day.
  • On Tuesday at 9:30 am, 25 percent of the 325 operating stations were empty or full.

Source: Oliver O'Brien Bike Share Map from The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis

Friday, October 17, 2014

Whole station shutdowns biggest Citi Bike maintenance issue, but trending down

A month-by-month look at Citi Bike station maintenance shows that whole station shutdowns are the largest issue. The good news: station malfunctions peaked in March at 630 (roughly 2 shutdowns per station during the month) and have been trending down since. Most station malfunctions required a reboot or a new battery.

Individual dock malfunctions trended up in August though they too peaked in March at 359.

Source: NYC Bike Share monthly reports

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We've been banned at

So we posted this comment:

We’re sorry you feel that way.

So far in October, 3165 pageviews have come from reddit -- some from /r/Citibike/, most from /r/NYC/ -- so it seems to us there’s is at least moderate interest in what we have to offer.

We’re serious about what we’re trying to do: Hold Citi Bike to a decent level of service, whether it be cracked seats, empty stations, or the issue you close your post with -- Dock Lock.

We've built out a page with links to monthly reports

August 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Year to year, Citi Bike use declining among both members and casual users

In a previous post, we discussed how annual Citi Bike memberships peaked in April and have been declining since.
We’re seeing other indicators that the system has matured and use of the bikes is declining over a year ago.
Total rides in August and September were slightly lower than a year ago, even though there were 16000 more members in August 2014 (don’t have all September. numbers yet). And August’s weather sure beat 2013.
Combined pass purchases actually peaked in August 2013 at 56881. July pass purchases trailed 2013 by 17% and August by 9 percent.
Rides per member peaked in August, too, at 11.76 per. This August that number was down 15%.

Source: Citi Bike monthly reports

Man Disguises Stolen Citi Bike by Painting It Purple, Police Say

To the story

An excerpt

Police were able to identify it as a Citi Bike because the serial number was still visible, according to a criminal complaint from the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Crank-o-Meter, last 4 weeks: NotSpots the chief complaint, plus Rant of the Week

  • NotSpots -- empty and full stations -- leaped past Abandoned/stolen bikes as the No. 1 complaint.
  • Trending up were complaints about Dock Lock and broken bikes.


walking home to my apartment on ‪#‎LES‬ crossing my street some homeless dick head on a stolen ‪#‎Citibike‬ rams into me going the WRONG WAY, not in the fucking ‪#‎bikelane‬!

seriously, has the nerve to tell me how Im on my phone... "yeh dick, im on my phone crossing the street on a ‪#‎WALK‬ signal while you are going against traffic and NOT in a god damn bike lane...! You just ran into me!!!!

The appropriate response would be 'Im really sorry, are you ok?'.... my being on my phone isn't the issue, you on a stolen bike breaking traffic laws and running into pedestrians is a fucking problem!!!!!!!!" Pissed off man! Hope this POS gets hit by a fucken bus!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Can anyone confirm this neat trick with key to release a bike that won’t budge?

Facebook poster Alex Coulombe reports that you can release a bike that won’t budge from the dock by jamming your key in and out real fast. He says this trick works for him
about 80 percent of the time.  We’re looking for other Citi Bike members who can confirm this. Would be a great time-saver!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Open letter to Scott Stringer, Ydanis Rodriguez and Polly Trottenberg: Please stop CitiBike from embarrassing NYC among our visitors

Scott M. Stringer
City Comptroller

Ydanis Rodrguez
Chair, City Council Transportation Committee

Polly Trottenberg
Commissioner, Department  of Transportation

Dear City Officials:

We ask that you use your powers to stop Citi Bike from unilaterally assessing penalty fees on first-time pass users who clearly misunderstand how the bike-share system works.

There is an ever-growing number of complaints from visitors that all boil down to this:

I bought the 24-hour pass. I took the bike over the bridge to Brooklyn and had a great seven-hour ride. Great until I got my credit card statement and found the $100-plus overcharge. Citi Bike is a big ripoff!

Citi Bike is marketed as a purchase of a 24-hour or 7-day pass. But what you’re really buying are 30-minute chunks of time.Screenshot 2014-10-03 at 7.44.11 AM.png
Screenshots from

The money generated by penalty fees is not insignificant. The New York Post reported last month that those fees, from pass purchasers and annual members, have amounted to more than $4 million since Citi Bike opened in May 2013.

We calculate that this year penalty fees to people who purchased passses amount to13% percent of New York City Bike Share’s gross revenue. Mistakes of that magnitude have to indicate the customer doesn’t understand what he is buying.

Citi Bike should be working hard to get that number down. Instead, penalties have been a consistent source of revenue, ranging from 60% of total pass revenue in May to 44% in January.

This year though August NYCBS collected $1.4 million in penalty fees to what it calls “casual users” in its monthly reports. We hope you agree that is a stunning number.

But there’s another number that’s even more of a stunner. In August, NYCBS refunded just 2.11% of these the casual users’ penalty fees, a number that suggests a system that is operating to near perfection. The most NYCBS has refunded since it started reporting that number was 12% in May.


This is a bike-sharing system that suffers from:
  • a high number of docks that malfunction and stations that lose power
  • well documented reports of stations that stay empty or full for hours
  • an app that accurately reports station conditions only half of the time
  • self-acknowledged software issues.

Given these ongoing conditions, we fail to understand how a company can claim that 98 percent of overtime charges are valid.

We have some suggestions for reform

  • First-time pass users get an automatic refund and a communication from Citi Bike with a clear explanation of the 30-minute limit. If they break the rules a second time, it’s their tough luck

  • NYCBS no longer gets to play judge, jury and executioner. An independent third-party should be deciding when refunds are made, not a company that is struggling to make a profit.

What’s happening to out-of-towners who don’t read the fine print before renting a bike is a serious setback to the efforts of every New Yorker who works hard to make sure our visitors’ experience is a pleasant one.
We cannot tolerate visitors carrying home a sour experience when they could and should be talking about an exhilarating time in the most special city in world.

Please fix.