Citi Bike contract redo possible: DOT commissioner

Citi Bike’s operator, Alta, has been losing money.

Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg on Thursday raised the idea of renegotiating the city’s contract with Citi Bike’s operator.

At a City Council hearing, Trottenberg said that she wanted a contract that was “a little simpler and streamlined” moving forward.

“So far, the operation has not made money, it may at some point… and the question is, if it’s either starting to become profitable or owing us parking revenues or other things, what would we do with that,” Trottenberg said. “Would we plow that back into expanding service, which, I think would probably make sense.”

Citi Bike’s operator, Alta, has been losing money and had faced problems with software and keeping docks balanced with spaces and bikes. It has been soliciting funding from investors in an effort to expand to 600 stations and 10,000 bikes.

While Trottenberg noted that Alta has been responding to its operational snags after a particularly harsh winter, she told reporters “we have, I think, to come up with another way of enforcing the service level.” She noted a fine would be an option, but said that could be the wrong solution for a money-losing bike share operation.

Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee, suggested that MasterCard and Citibank pump more money into the bike share system or open up branding to other companies.

“I believe that Citibank and MasterCard,” he said, “they got a great deal.”

(Dan Rivoli)

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