Citibike's expansion into Crown Heights might happen afterall
  • "One of these people said the emerging agreement would call for bringing docking stations to Queens for the first time, in neighborhoods such as Long Island City. Williamsburg and Park Slope in Brooklyn also also get new docking stations while other Brooklyn neighborhoods such as Prospect Heights, parts of Crown Heights and Red Hook could get the blue bikes for the first time, this person said. In Manhattan, docking stations would be placed as far north as 130th Street, and this person said."

    http://online.wsj.com/articles/citi-bike-poised-for-a-big-infusion-of-cash-1406163340
  • Awesome. I Citi Bike home from Lower Manhattan most days when I haven't ridden my own bike to work. I have to dock at the station near Franklin @ Atlantic which is still nearly a mile from my apartment.

    Glad to see they are raising the annual membership price. Those have been way under-priced.
  • I'm all for this! However even with the increased membership cost do they really have the money to expand seeing how their having trouble maintaining bikes?
  • I really wish we could get just singular and large stations at the main train stations surrounding Prospect Park.

    2/3 at GAP
    F/G at 15th Street
    Q at Parkside
    Q/B/S at Prospect Park

    It would at least get bikes near neighborhoods like south slope, ditmas park, plg, park slope, and prospect heights while getting people (both New Yorkers and tourists alike) to bike in the park.
  • newguy88 said:

    I'm all for this! However even with the increased membership cost do they really have the money to expand seeing how their having trouble maintaining bikes?



    It sounds like the new investment from REQX Ventures will provide that.  And an increase of $50 on annual memberships will mean an immediate increase of ~$5M in annual operating revenues given >100K members (some will drop out with the price increase, but others will join with the system expansion).

    As much as I want the system to expand southward in Brooklyn, it seems to me that the smarter investment would be more stations in Manhattan, especially north of 59th.  

    The main reason for Citi Bike's lower than expected revenues in its first year is that it has proven to be too popular with local commuters.  Tourists and less frequent local users provide a lot higher $/ride ratio, but they have had difficulty finding bikes with the annual members using them so frequently; many Manhattan stations are empty at rush hours.  Most people who bike in Brooklyn use their own bikes most of the time, and there are far fewer tourists than in Manhattan.  

    But if REQX wants to expand the system farther south, no argument here... :-)
  • Part of my thought around why Citibank invested in the program is to strengthen its reputation among young, college educated people (ie the demographics of many Citibike riders). It branded the bikes and the stations to further this goal.

    Will REQX similarly brand the bikes with ads about Related Realty?

    ...lots of young bike riding types do move frequently and will eventually buy their first home.
  • A big reason why tourists and non-annual members have not used it much is that the software bugs have made using it this way very difficult. I've heard that people can spend up to 10-15 minutes trying to check out a bike, going through several different codes and needing to call Citibike. If they bought a 12 hour pass, they have to do this many times during the day. I doubt they would be likely to do the same thing again on their trip (tourists) or soon (residents). 
  • I will believe it when I see it. I am an annual member and use the bikes to get home from midtown when the weather is good. I think that the reason tourists don't use it more is because of the lack of stations surrounding Central Park in Manhattan and the general unfriendliness of the software that runs the stations. A colleague of mine is a casual user and has now been given a plastic card to insert in the individual dock that alleviates the need to enter a code, if Citibike makes these cards available for sale at hotels and other tourist venues, then more tourists will use the bikes.
  • bohuma said:

    I will believe it when I see it. I am an annual member and use the bikes to get home from midtown when the weather is good. I think that the reason tourists don't use it more is because of the lack of stations surrounding Central Park in Manhattan and the general unfriendliness of the software that runs the stations. A colleague of mine is a casual user and has now been given a plastic card to insert in the individual dock that alleviates the need to enter a code, if Citibike makes these cards available for sale at hotels and other tourist venues, then more tourists will use the bikes.



    Great idea.  I agree that if I were a tourist I would be terrified to ride through midtown - but riding through the larger parks in BK and Manhattan or riding to destinations (Coney Island?) would be great.  But then you'd need a dock.
  • xlizellx said:

    Great idea.  I agree that if I were a tourist I would be terrified to ride through midtown - but riding through the larger parks in BK and Manhattan or riding to destinations (Coney Island?) would be great.  But then you'd need a dock.



    Many may be too scared to ride in Midtown, but there really is no need to be. There are separated bike lanes on several major avenues (1st, 2nd, Broadway, 8th, 9th), and side street traffic at most times of the day rarely gets above 25mph. Citi Bike has had over 10 million rides now w/ 0 major injuries. It's very, very safe.
  • Another reason tourists/casual users probably don't use citi bike as much is the short term cost, $10 for 24hours, is too high. In comparison, a 24 hours pass in london is 2gbp, around $3.50. 
  • MasTacos said:

    Another reason tourists/casual users probably don't use citi bike as much is the short term cost, $10 for 24hours, is too high. In comparison, a 24 hours pass in london is 2gbp, around $3.50. 



    I don't know about that. Before bike sharing was a thing tourists spent $30-$50 per day to rent bikes through places like bike-n-roll and others. I know when we honeymooned in San Fran 2 bikes for the day was almost $100
  • I wonder if there couldn't be some kind of insurance purchased for theft as with rental cars. You get charged $1000 if the bike is lost or stolen. I don't know if they come with chains and locks but I'm sure people usually don't have them available. This may be another reason that many tourists don't use the bikes. If a reasonable amount could be decided upon even people who subscribe by the year might be tempted to buy it.
  • But isn't the idea that you aren't supposed to be a victim of theft because you are going to dock close to your destination and then just take another bike when you are ready to go? I think that the reason that bikes are primarily below 59th Street in Manhattan is because the vast majority of tourist sites are located below 59th Street. If the model was fully implemented, then you'd have more market penetration. But with is only being located in a small area, you basically are cutting out anyone who wants to travel outside of that area.

    As for insurance, I don't think there would be a problem finding a company that was willing to write the policy, I just think that the price point would be too high to justify (if the cost is $10 per 24 hours, anything more than $2-3 might impact someone's willingness to purchase insurance). I also don't think that the bike lobby wants to move towards the concept of bikers carrying insurance. It opens the door to a requirement for all bikers, which they are strongly against.
  • homeowner said:

    But isn't the idea that you aren't supposed to be a victim of theft because you are going to dock close to your destination and then just take another bike when you are ready to go? I think that the reason that bikes are primarily below 59th Street in Manhattan is because the vast majority of tourist sites are located below 59th Street. If the model was fully implemented, then you'd have more market penetration. But with is only being located in a small area, you basically are cutting out anyone who wants to travel outside of that area.

    As for insurance, I don't think there would be a problem finding a company that was willing to write the policy, I just think that the price point would be too high to justify (if the cost is $10 per 24 hours, anything more than $2-3 might impact someone's willingness to purchase insurance). I also don't think that the bike lobby wants to move towards the concept of bikers carrying insurance. It opens the door to a requirement for all bikers, which they are strongly against.



    Yeah, I don't think theft is a big fear.  People know they are going to be riding from one dock to another without ever being away from the bike. 

    I'd be interested to see the geographic origin of tourists using the bikes.  I would guess it's disproportionately weighted towards Europeans.  They not only bike commute a lot more than Americans, they are much more familiar with bike share systems given several large cities there had systems before Citi Bike was running. Americans have a much greater fear of bike riding as well; thus our obsession with helmets, something Europeans don't share.
  • When the program first launched, I remember reading about how the bikes would have microchips embedded in them to allow recovery. This idea was that they would serve as a deterrent to theft.

    If citibike hasn't been able to obtain the cooperation of the the police (or hire a security firm of some sort), then they basically aren't upholding their part of the bargain.

    ...I shouldn't have to worry about being charged $1000 for someone taking a bike that I thought I securely returned to faulty dock.

    Citibike should mitigate my risk of same, by having a good program to retrieve "wayward, unrented" bikes.

    Thieves are less likely to take bikes from the docks, or individuals if they know their is a likelihood of someone in a uniform telling them the bike is presently "unrented" ...


  • True enough if you don't decide to stop for a Starbucks along the ride and leave the bike unattended for a few minutes. Last year I saw one of the local slime lifting a bike through the window of his apartment. Told a cop about it the next day when he was doing foot patrol in front of my office. Even showed him the apartment. Told me since there were no bikes in the 77th he wasn't going to do anything about it but he'd tell the detectives. Probably by that time they would have needed a search warrant to get into the apartment and if he even told them they decided it wasn't worth the effort.
  • I wonder how much it actually cost Citibike to replace a bike.

    $1000 seems like it should buy 2 bikes.
  • Not sure why you would steal a Citibike.  There's far easier bikes to steal that are lighter, more practical, and less conspicuous.
  • whynot_31 said:

    I wonder how much it actually cost Citibike to replace a bike.

    $1000 seems like it should buy 2 bikes.



    I seem to remember seeing somewhere that they cost $6-700. The expense was mostly attributed to custom parts to prevent people from stealing parts to put on their own bikes.

    That said, I don't think bike theft is really a problem. Yes there are plenty of articles about people doing odd things with citi bikes but those are only a handful out of 6,000 in circulation. I'm not sure a system to track up to 12,000 items that cost less than $1000 would be worth the set up and operational costs.

    Re: Alta's expenses... Don't forget that they lost a considerable amount of brand new property to hurricane sandy that was in storage right before it was meant to be deployed. Furthermore, citi bike is public transportation, I would like to see support from the government just like every other form of public transportation. 
  • MasTacos said:

    Furthermore, citi bike is public transportation, I would like to see support from the government just like every other form of public transportation.


    More than anything else in the WSJ article this line from DiBlasio stood out:

    "Citi Bike has become part of our public transportation system, and there is a lot riding on its success."

    He and other city officials have previously indicated Citi Bike will not be funded by the city. People hate the sound of a corporate bailout. But Citi Bike truly has become part of the NYC transit system (as large bike share programs elsewhere have become as well (e.g. Velib in Paris)). Bikes can bridge the "last mile" of a transit network better than any other options, and many NYC residents have clearly come to realize that quickly. Citi Bike should receive major public funds and be greatly expanded.
  • If Citibank can afford to pay the Mets $25 million a year for the naming rights of their stadium they can afford to pump a million or so into Citibike for a few more years. Unless of course the seven billion they're paying the government for bad mortgages really tapped them out,
  • Some investments have a lower ROI than others.

    While the bikes may have the social benefits Mike describes, they may not be providing the benefits that Citibank sought/seeks.
  • eastbloc said:

    Not sure why you would steal a Citibike.  There's far easier bikes to steal that are lighter, more practical, and less conspicuous.



    While not bright, this person disagreed:
    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/07/27/cops_say_thief_painted_citi_bike_hilarity_ensues.php#more

  • I would suspect that some of these thefts are crimes of opportunity. The bike's unlocked, someone takes it. Sort of like when an idiot goes into a convenience store and leaves the car running and it gets stolen. Those aren't professional thieves. Just people letting their stupidity take over.
  • Yes, I have heard that the docks are defective, and that people then steal the bikes from them.

    For the sake of the prior "legal" user, I hope that the docks record the return of the bike, but then simply don't secure them.



  • My teenaged son told me that there are videos up on YouTube on how to jailbreak a Citibike from its dock. Evidently its a very popular thing among the teen set who do not have credit cards and have no interest in getting one to rent a bike for a short ride. The bikes in question are properly docked, but there is a way to have the dock release a bike without you using a fob or credit card. I saw an older gentleman in Union Sq one day going from one bike to another trying to get the dock to release, so this is not just a teen thing. This may also be a reason why the app says a bike is present in a dock, but you get there and there are no bikes available.


  • Some investments have a lower ROI than others.

    While the bikes may have the social benefits Mike describes, they may not be providing the benefits that Citibank sought/seeks.


    There's not much incentive for them to add more.  They've likely gained all the brand awareness they will via the the program... operating losses (which they aren't on the hook for) aside, the program has been a huge success: safe and very popular.  Adding more bikes now doesn't do much to increase awareness of their brand; it's just a new expense for them.

    On a separate note, WNYC report today with comments from the Equinox CEO (part of REQX Ventures):

  • If I were Related Companies, I wouldn't try to rename the bike program.

    I'd be happy with just having advertisements on the docks. I'd have all of the companies' locations refill the cards or serve as "enrollment centers", to further merge the brands' identities.

    @homeowner - yes, I've heard the docks can be pretty easily defeated even when they work, and this is part of why bikes are not there when you need them.

    ....The system records bikes as being there that are no longer there.
  • I hope that clears the way for an expansion into crown heights. 

    On a somewhat related note, car share service car2go went live in brooklyn this weekend. I already spotted a few of their smart cars in crown heights.
  • NYT report on the deal today.

    6,000 to 12,000 bikes phased in over 2015-2017.  Stations up from 330 to 700.

    Annual fee going from $95 to $149 with new monthly and seasonal pass options.

    Crown Heights not mentioned among the new coverage areas:  

    "Starting next year, the 12,000 bikes will be at more than 700 stations, including Astoria and Sunnyside, Queens; Red Hook, Park Slope and Greenpoint, Brooklyn; and the Upper East Side, Upper West Side and Harlem."

    A Citi Bike e-mail sent out today says the first spots to get the next wave of bikes will be northern Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Long Island City and further into Bed-Stuy (all of which were planned to be covered at launch, until Sandy changed that).
  • Re: Car2Go.  I signed up, as it's a one time application fee of $35 and the fee is currently waived with the Brooklyn specific coupon code you can enter.  It seems like a good option as a DIY cab, as it's best for short, one way trips.  If you need a car for a longer period of time, or to run errands, you're better off going with Enterprise Carshare or Zipcar.  Either way, it's nice to have other transportation options, even if we are going to have to wait a bit longer for Citibikes.  I should point out that the home area for Car2go stops at Eastern Parkway, so those of us who live in Southern Crown Heights either have to walk North of the Parkway, or advocate that they expand their home area.  Looking at the map, it pretty much perfectly mirrors the gentrification line.  I'd be curious to see how they ended up settling on that particular home area.   

    https://www.car2go.com/common/data/locations/usa/newyork/Brooklyn_HomeArea.pdf
  • I've looked into short term (ie hourly) rent a cars for local trips in which I need to haul crap that is too large for the subway (Home Deport, Lowe's, IKEA, etc). However, I still find it cheaper to go to the location and then take a cab home.

    If it were a nice day out and Citibike ever expands to Crown Heights, I might ride Citibike from Crown Heights to a big box store, leave at a nearby dock, and then take a cab with my purchases home.

  • From DNA's article (PH,CH get a mention)
    "A host of Brooklyn neighborhoods are also getting the bike share, including Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Bushwick, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights, Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Gowanus and more of Bedford-Stuyvesant, according to the Department of Transportation."

    On Car2go, I'm a member and I find it awesome.   There are certain scenarios that can't be beat with a cab.  Like say shopping trips under an hr (14 bucks).  Or say picking up a lady and taking her to the date destination  (priceless) Or that random trip somewhere last minute.  The magic is, no monthly fees ever.  So put in the discount code BKYLN and your risk is zero if it turns out you have no use for it.  But even walking down the street, seeing one of these things and knowing you can jump in and go offers its own sort of power.  I find the app/car interface pretty fun too.



  • This about to-be-printed article in Crain's about Citibike makes it sound as if it is presently struggling for survival;   I am not betting on it coming to Crown Heights anytime soon.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150426/TRANSPORTATION/150429891
  • whynot_31 said:

    This about to-be-printed article in Crain's about Citibike makes it sound as if it is presently struggling for survival



    Huh?

    From the article:

    * Membership is down 12% year-to-date, but that is after a 50% price hike; that is actually pretty good retention

    * Citigroup just contributed another $110 million

    * March revenues were only down 4% despite it being significantly colder this March than in 2014

    * Maintenance issues in March were cut in half compared to 2014

    It may not be in Crown Heights any time soon, but it certainly isn't "struggling for survival" either.
  • I thought the article was overly harsh.   My experiences with Citibike have not been as bad as the article would lead one to believe.
  • I hope the dock upgrades work. They are a pain in the ass on a regular basis, when I often need to try to dock 5+ times because I repeatedly get a yellow light instead of green, or a dock that won't take a bike.

    That said, the bike maintenance situation seems improved— I regularly get bikes with brakes sufficiently strong that I can do sick skidzzz.
  • If I was the new head of Citibike, I would want an article that focused on how bad the situation was when I took office. Ideally, the article would focus on things I had some control over. I would be ok with the article being overly harsh.

    Then, a few years later, I would create a press release that said the problems have been addressed and look good in comparison to the prior head. I would receive accolades from all.
  • The dock upgrades have made the docks much faster.  I have not yet had a chance to assess their reliability.
  • It seems to me that the main business of Citibike is its avertising, as opposed to the bikes or the docks.

    I wonder if the advertisers would pay for Citibike to continue to exist if it didn't manage to grow its riderships and membership at all.

    http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20150508/BLOGS04/150509866
  • Heard a report on CBS radio today that the New York Citibike workers were the first bike share workers to unionize. They are represented by the TWU. According to the report, they got raises.
  • Heard a report on CBS radio today that the New York Citibike workers were the first bike share workers to unionize. They are represented by the TWU. According to the report, they got raises.



    Isn't Citibike struggling?
  • The original company that owned it sold it but I forgot to whom. And yes, they're not making oodles of money but I guess paying a little more in wages is better than not having anyone to work for them at all. Citibank was just the lead sponsor.
  • I doubt they wouldn't have anyone working for them.  There are always people looking for work.  Citibike can hire unionized employees and live with a big blow up rat in front of their headquarters.

    Looking at it another way, these employees seem to be willing to saddle a struggling company with even more expenses, thereby risking their own jobs.
  • southeast said:

    I doubt they wouldn't have anyone working for them.  There are always people looking for work.  Citibike can hire unionized employees and live with a big blow up rat in front of their headquarters.


    Looking at it another way, these employees seem to be willing to saddle a struggling company with even more expenses, thereby risking their own jobs.


    Or one could view it as workers who are putting in a massive amount of work to keep citibike a float are demanding fair compensation for their effort.
  • More accurately, they are demanding more compensation for their effort.

    Whether or not their compensation was fair prior to unionizing is debatable.
  • The definition of "fair" does seem to always be elusive, but here's some details on what they received:


    "Under the agreement, workers will immediately earn at least $1.50 more an hour, bringing the wage for a bike mechanic to $18.41, from $16.91. The union said it hoped to use the agreement as a template in other cities like Boston and Chicago where it represents bike-share workers.

    Citi Bike workers joined the union, which represents thousands of subway and bus workers in New York, in September. The agreement includes additional wage increases over the course of the contract and other benefits, including eight weeks of paid parental leave."

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/10/nyregion/citi-bike-workers-in-new-york-get-union-contract.html

    So, about $37k a year, with benefits. That seems about right for a moderately skilled labor position in NYC.
  • Fair compensation in my mind is determined by supply and demand.  Basically, replacement value.  Nothing more, nothing less.  

    If one doesn't feel like they are getting what they deserve, they are more than welcome to find someone who will pay them what they feel they deserve.  The door is always open.  At some point, an equilibrium will be set.

    I, personally, struggle with the whole concept of unions in this day and age.  Some sectors (i.e., public) may have more of a need for it, but many others are simply ruining their own companies.
  • I am ok with gov and unions setting a minimum wage, the present minimum wages in effect (coupled with the level of enforcement) don't really bother me.

    I object to union contracts that make the position so high paying that the employee feels like they have won the lottery, and the the employer has to pay wages far beyond market rate.

    ....these wages seem in line with market. I don't think they will result in 10,000s of people applying for dozens of jobs.

  • I don't know about Citibike's particular facts and what was negotiated.  I'm talking more in the general sense.  But I'd like to add that this is just the start; they are now through the door.
  • I have been a managerial level staff person at a few places in NY that had unions, and have to say I never found them to be very intimidating.

    http://www.dc1707.net/

    http://www.1199seiu.org/#sthash.DBj0p7sD.dpbs

    The workers received about the compensation what they would have otherwise, and the process of disciplining employees was not much different than the standard set by a normal HR dept.

    As a result, management didn't mind the unions but many of the employees wish they didn't have to pay the fee (about 1% of their paychecks) to work in a closed shop that they did not perceive as different than a nonunionized work place.

  • I'm neither for nor against unions but the people who appear to be against them seem to be the ones that make a lot more than minimum wage or even a paycheck to paycheck wage. I would add that I know a few car cleaners that work for the MTA that make near $60,000/yr and frankly that seems way too much but if the MTA thinks it's ok and they can get commuters to pay the increased fares then who am I to argue.
  • The MTA's positions don't pay so much that their HR dept can sit idle:

    http://www.glassdoor.com/Job/mta-metropolitan-transportation-authority-jobs-SRCH_KE0,41.htm

    Their employees must have other opportunities that are about as good.
  • I'm neither for nor against unions but the people who appear to be against them seem to be the ones that make a lot more than minimum wage or even a paycheck to paycheck wage. I would add that I know a few car cleaners that work for the MTA that make near $60,000/yr and frankly that seems way too much but if the MTA thinks it's ok and they can get commuters to pay the increased fares then who am I to argue.



    If they are unionized, I'm not sure the MTA has a choice.  So I wouldn't say "if the MTA thinks its okay."  And passing the buck on to the commuters is not fair.  MTA should have a fiduciary duty to serve the citizens of New York by providing them with a safe, comfortable, and cost efficient commute.  They kind of have a monopoly to some extent; it's not like we have a choice as to whether to use MTA or not.  The next option is significantly more expensive.

    Any other for profit company, I would say what you said - that if they think it's okay and can pass the expense over to the customers..."  But that is just the point, supply and demand and the efficient markets will not allow that company survive.  Someone else will do it more economically, sell the product/service for less, and put them out of business.
  • southeast said:

    Fair compensation in my mind is determined by supply and demand.  Basically, replacement value.  Nothing more, nothing less.  


    If one doesn't feel like they are getting what they deserve, they are more than welcome to find someone who will pay them what they feel they deserve.  The door is always open.  At some point, an equilibrium will be set.

    I, personally, struggle with the whole concept of unions in this day and age.  Some sectors (i.e., public) may have more of a need for it, but many others are simply ruining their own companies.


    Most wages are set by unions of capitalists, which is to say, corporations.
  • An important question is how many years have those making 60k been car cleaners? As a UFT member myself, I think one important difference between union and non union jobs is the consistent salary increase that goes with union jobs the longer you work. The starting salary may not be great, but sticking around pays off. There are teachers making 120k, but it took them 30 years to get there.
  • For better or worse, charter schools ensure that few of their teachers ever make $120k.

    They have no unions. Turnover is expected, and even rewarded. ...they have a constant supply of new, young graduates to fill the vacancies.

    The face of the threat to UFT is often Teach For America.

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