Saturday, January 31, 2015

Citi Bike steadily recovering from post-snowstorm station crash

About the NotSpot Index

As the storm began during the Monday morning commute, Citi Bike announced it was suspending rebalancing efforts. Instead, its crews concentrated on getting bikes out of stations exposed to the wrath of snowplows either to off-street stations or back to the shops.
That reduced the available bike count from the pre-storm level by about 200 to 1765 on Tuesday afternoon. Given last winter’s experience, when bikes at many stations were entombed for weeks under plowed snow turned to ice, that seemed to be the prudent way to go.
On Monday at 7 pm, as the storm neared, Citi Bike shut down the entire system -- a first, in step with the rest of the city’s transit systems. Service resumed at 10:30 Tuesday morning as the snow turned to flurries.
Throughout the storm, the number of operating stations remained constant at a normal level of 326 out of 330. Then whammo! Sometime Tuesday evening or early Wednesday 65 stations conked out. That took the available bike count down to 1400 on Wednesday at 8:30 am, by far the lowest ever since we began tracking in January 2014.
The event eclipsed the previous system crash of Dec. 3, 2014 when a telecommunications glitch took out more than 50 stations and 800-plus bikes.

The system steadily recovered through Friday, although 14 more stations crashed before Saturday morning.
Here’s what Citi Bike said Thursday morning on Facebook concerning its recovery efforts:

Since the snow stopped falling on Tuesday, our teams have been working around the clock to reboot stations and shovel the 8 inches of snow we did get. 75% of stations have been totally cleared of snow so far and we are on schedule to complete snow removal today. There are still some stations that are in queue to be serviced (20). Please check the app for live station updates before starting a trip.

Another encouraging indicator of Citi Bike’s performance is how the NotSpot Index progressively improved after the storm.

About the NotSpot Index

About the NotSpot Index

Yes, Week 4 is the first week of the new year in the green zone but we can’t make too much of it. Because of the snowstorm that started Monday, only two days contributed to the data, Thursday and Friday.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Snowstorm shutters 20% of Citi Bike system

When the temp is only 20 degrees, this may be more of an interesting milestone than a transportation crisis but…
This morning, 69 Citi Bike stations are out of service -- more than 20 percent of the system. On top of that, at 8:30 am, 52 stations were empty and one was full. That renders more than a third of the system unusable, by far the highest number we’ve ever seen.
This may indicate a more managed response to snow than last year when Citi Bike admitted it left far too many bikes in the stations in January. A record 5433 bikes were available on Jan 17, 2014. The bikes subsequently got plowed under and many suffered damaged as a result.
Whatever the case, there are fewer Citi Bikes available this morning -- 1400 at 8:30 am -- than at any time since we’ve been tracking system performance at the beginning of 2014. There were  2900+ bikes available before the storm hit.

Citi Bike has pledged to get the fleet back to pre-storm levels over the next couple of days.
9:30 am update: Citi Bike, in a Facebook post, says the storm knocked 30 stations offline. That doesn’t explain what happened to the other 39 it reported to be out of service at 8:30 am. Could be that those stations are operational but plowed-in.

Good luck getting a bike in Brooklyn this morning. Gray stations are those out of service.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fleet size drops to record low as Operation Overhaul begins

Fleet size at the end of  December -- the number of bikes on the streets -- was the lowest monthly figure since the system opened. The system operators admitted leaving too many bikes on the street last winter -- fleet size was 6,499 in December 2013. And Citi Bike has pledged to use this winter to overhaul every one of its bikes.
Source: NYC Bike Share monthly reports

This winter, Citi Bike riders are taking shorter trips

This winter, Citi Bike riders are traveling shorter distances than last. In December, the average trip was 1.41 miles, the lowest monthly number yet recorded.  In December 2013 the average was 1.52. Highest average trip was in the system’s early day’s, July 2013’s 1.97 miles.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Remarkable how penalty fees are such a steady contributor to bottom line

Citi Bike collected $37,000 in overtime charges from pass users in December, 41 percent of total pass revenue.

Penalty fees in December amounted to $2.07 per rider, the lowest number of the year. The per pass purchase rate is $5.47

Member revenue drops below 2013 level for first time

Revenue from new and renewing annual members dropped below 2013 levels for the first time in December. The drop was substantial -- 24 percent to $89,000. And that’s with the 50 percent rate increase in place.
We suspect that many members who signed up last winter found they didn’t get much use out of the system in the brutal cold and are waiting until March to renew. A darker explanation might be that the rate increase, combined with the frustration caused by NotSpots and Dock Lock, is chasing people away. Guess time will tell.

For the second straight month, gross revenue from all riders -- members and pass purchasers -- declined from last year’s levels. Revenue from riders ran 32 percent behind December 2013. In November, it ran 20 percent behind.

Citi Bike annual membership declined slightly for the third straight month. Dember ran eight percent behind December 2013, the widest gap so far. The 702 signups are the lowest monthly figure yet recorded.

Total pass purchases -- 1-day and 7-day -- hit an historic low in December of $6808. In no comparable month in 2014 did pass riders exceed 2013 levels.

Source: NYC Bike Share monthly reports

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

This time last year, NotSpots started trending up until peaking at an out-of-control 96 on May 27. The current trend is downward and, weather-wise, this January has been much milder than last.

NotSpots peaked at 96 on May 27 and came closest to perfect balance with just two empty stations on a stormy June 9.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nice NotSpot downtrend since that awful December

Since the Worst Week Ever five weeks ago, the NotSpot Index has dropped 13 points. That’s the most significant short-term improvement in the number of empty/full stations since we’ve seen since last May.
Could it be that Citi Bike’s new owners are now motivated to put their money where their algorithm is?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Empty/full stations dropped by 30% November over November

Instances of empty/full Citi Bike stations dropped by 30 percent November over November, requiring less movement by crews of bikes from station to station -- bike rebalancing dropped by 15 percent.

An interview with Jay Walder, CEO of Citi Bike’s parent company

To the story

An excerpt
This morning, the company came out with a new name, Motivate, one of the first public announcements in what’s expected to be a year of rapid improvement and growth. (Another piece of news dropped last week: Jersey City has picked the company to run its new bike-share system, which will be accessible to Citi Bike members.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Which Citi Bike stat isn’t declining? Sadly, vandalism reports

  • At 219 incidents during November, vandalism stubbornly clings to the high end of the timeline.
  • We found 27 pics of abandoned/stolen Citi Bikes taken in November. That number topped the list of social media rants for the month.complaints.
  • Citi Bike defines vandalism as “including stickers, graffiti, and damage to stations or bicycles.”

Source: NYC Bike Share November report

Monday, January 12, 2015

Penalty fees continue to make up 40% of all pass revenue

Fees peaked at 56% of revenue in January, hit a low of 39.5% in May.

We maintain that Citi Bike marketing emphasizes the words Day Pass and relegates “30-minute-ride limit” to an afterthought. If you don’t think we’re upset about this, see Open letter to Scott Stringer.

Pass revenue has consistently run below last year’s levels.

Pass ridership peaked at nearly 57,000 in August 2013. For 2014, again the peak came in August but ridership is consistently running below the inaugural year’s levels.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

There are only two days -- Monday and Wednesday -- in last week’s index. Snow and the extreme cold knocked the other three days out.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

What we didn't consider: No reason to renew in November if you're not a cold-weather rider

Update: A contributor on reddit reminds us that if you know you're not much of a winter rider, why waste three or four month's time by renewing in November? By that reasoning, the March numbers should show a nice bounce.

And our November-to-November comparison is diminished because we neglected to take into account that in November 2013 renewals weren't a factor. We apologize for that.

We have removed our posts at reddit and twitter.

Original post: November was the first month that Citi Bike collected $149 for an annual membership -- a 50% increase from the old price -- and we fully expected a big spike in revenues. Instead, November vs. November revenue from members was up just 6% from last year, at $183K vs.  $172K.

November’s gross revenue before sponsorships -- that’s revenue from members, pass purchasers and penalty fees -- actually decreased by 20 percent -- to $360K from $452K.

While the signup of new members is tracking closely to the pattern established in 2013, existing members aren’t renewing at a rate sufficient to keep membership growing.

A hopeful sign: fewest dead stations for the year in November

Here’s a hopeful sign: November saw the fewest station malfunctions of the year. Individual dock malfunctions, while not nearly the problem they were in the first half of the year, ticked upward.
Source: NYC Bike Share monthly reports

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Available bikes declined through December as empty station count rose

Citi Bike has been steadily pulling bikes off the street since early November, with the number dropping to a low for the year of 2756 on December 30. This is in contrast to last winter, when the number of available bikes peaked at 5433 in mid-January.

It could be that Citi Bike has learned a lesson from 2014’s harsh winter. Or it could be that the move will only exacerbate the system’s so-far dismal performance this winter. The decline in the number of available bikes does correspond with the recent increase in the number of empty stations.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Here's all of 2014

The last week of 2014 came in at a mediocre average of 34 NotSpots. FYI, we don’t include holidays like New Year’s Day or The Day After.