Citi Bike Queens expansion could get a lift from commuter tax break bill
As Queens continues to wait for Citi Bike to roll in, a local lawmaker wants to bring in more users with a commuter tax break to help the system expand.
Rep. Joseph Crowley Monday said he would introduce a bill to add bike share to the list of employee commuting options eligible for a tax benefit in an effort to bring revenue in from new riders. The benefit would be for bike share systems around the country.
"You can get a MetroCard to take the subway or a bus, you can get a monthly pass for Metro-North or Long Island Rail Road," he said. "But you can't use that benefit right now, under present law, for a bike share membership."
Crowley said he plans to add the benefit this year to a package of tax cuts that Congress is pursuing. His bill is similar to one Sen. Charles Schumer announced in April that his office estimated would let employees take $20 a month off their income for tax purposes if they use bike share.
Josh Benson, the city Department of Transportation's bicycle and pedestrian program director, was unable to offer an update on expansion plans or when NYC Bike Share will get its operations and finances in order so that the system can grow. An agency spokeswoman said it is unlikely an expansion will happen this year. Citi Bike's operator did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The DOT is in talks with Astoria's community board on dock locations, according to Benson.
"Officials and residents alike have been asking for Citi Bike to come to Queens," Crowley said. "I want to help on that effort."
Crowley rolled into the Jackson Heights news conference on a Citi Bike taken from a dock in Brooklyn, courtesy of an NYC Bike Share official who attended the news conference at Diversity Plaza, which is next to the Jackson Heights-Roosevelt Avenue transit hub.
"We have a lot of space for that bike share rack," Crowley said. "This is a great stop for a bike share facility."