Citi Bike will expand into Brooklyn, Queens and parts of Manhattan after officials reached a long-awaited rescue plan that includes a $30 million infusion, a higher membership fee and putting operations in the hands of a former MTA chief.
The expansion means a total of 12,000 bikes and 700 docks, a doubling of the current system's 330 stations and 6,000 rides. There is also a rate hike to $149 a year, with possible tweaks to other membership options to come, a Citi Bike spokeswoman said.Fees for weekly and daily passes will remain the same.
The plans will be ushered in under Jay Walder, who was MTA chairman from 2009 to 2011 before leaving to run Hong Kong's mass transit system.
Citi Bike's footprint will grow to cover western Queens, north and central Brooklyn, Harlem and the Upper West Side and Upper East Side by 2017. Bronx and Staten Island neighborhoods would get their turn in a second expansion down the line.
Since Citi Bike first rolled onto the street May 2013, problems with docks, bicycles, technology and the balance of bicycles at stations had stymied its expansion. .
Walder, who is now CEO of Alta Bicycle Share, which operates systems around the country, said at a news conference in Long Island City that Citi Bike has become a part of the city's fabric, despite riders' frustrations.
"Anyone who uses Citi Bike regularly knows that it should be more reliable, it should be easier to use and it should be accessible to more of the city," Walder said. "Citi Bike has the potential to be so much more."
Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg said "it is certainly the goal of New York City" that Citi Bike is a five-borough program.
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer said his western Queens community had been pushing for Citi Bike as officials put together an expansion plan that took months to complete.
"We want these blue bikes here as soon as possible," Van Bramer said..
To shore up Citi Bike's finances, Alta is getting the $30 million from a takeover by a venture formed by executives at real estate firm Related Companies and fitness company Equinox, under the name Bikeshare Holdings LLC. The Portland-based Alta will move its headquarters to New York City.
Citi, meanwhile, is pumping $70 million into the eponymous system over the next decade as part of its original sponsorship and Goldman Sachs is extending a $15 million line of credit.
Before the expansion gets rolling, Walder said there will be an overhaul every bike and dock space in the system over the winter and hire a vice president to focus on improving the system's technology.
"We have a financial model and a commitment from the new owners to be able to invest in this system," Walder said. "We are accountable for delivering and we're planning to do that. The resources will be there."