Saturday, December 6, 2014

Worst week of year for empty/filled stations; rides down 20% in Nov. Any connection?

We confess we’re mystified as to how how this mostly dreary first week of December is down as the Worst Week So Far in the NotSpot Index.

At 50, that means, on average, more than 15% of all operating Citi Bike stations were filled, or occasionally empty, every hour of every workday of the week.  The only explanation we can come up with, and this is purely surmise, is that there have been more cuts to the rebalancing crews.

The second and third weeks In May were the previous holders of the Worst Weeks title. That month, total rides were more than double that of last December, 955K vs. 460K. And since August, ridership this year vs. last has been trending down. In November, total rides were 20 percent fewer than last year.

And we’re all the more puzzled because this spike was not accompanied by a spike in the grumbling on social media. That was not the case back in the middle of May, the previous Worst Weeks.

And Wednesday’s mega crash, when apparently hundreds of stations went down for hours, has no impact on the NotSpot Index. (But the T-Mobile Did It incident has prodded us into paying a lot more attention to the number of operating stations.) That unprecedented event went unnoticed, too, in social and conventional media.

This makes us confront our worst fear: that New Yorkers will become so benumbed to empty stations, to docks that don’t work, and all the rest of the stuff that keeps Citi Bike from being truly great, that they’ll stop complaining.

Then again, if ridership keeps dropping by 20 percent, the system will eventually balance itself.

Sources: The O’Brien map
NYC Bike Share monthly reports

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