Bill de Blasio Will Not Bail Out Money-Losing Citi Bike

Citi Bikes. (Photo: Getty)
Citi Bikes. (Photo: Getty)

Citi Bike, hard-up for cash, shouldn’t expect any help from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The new mayor told reporters today that the city’s bike-share program, reportedly bleeding money, will probably not be getting any public dollars to help fill its coffers.

“At this moment, that’s not in our plans,” said Mr. de Blasio, responding to a question about whether the city would aid the privately-financed program at an unrelated press conference today. “We want to see what we can do help them back on their feet using other methodologies.”

Despite their popularity in some neighborhoods and their ballyhooed–if delayed–roll-out under former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Citi Bike continues to lose money, according to today’s Wall Street Journal. The report cited poor weather, rising operational costs, damage to equipment during Hurricane Sandy and unexpectedly low usage by tourists as reasons for the bike share’s financial struggles. 

Unlike bike-share programs in other cities, Citi Bike receives no public money. All revenue is raised through membership fees, corporate sponsorships and advertising. Polly Trottenberg, the city’s new transportation commissioner, has left the door open to a possible price hike, but is in discussions with the company about other options.

“What Commissioner Trottenberg was doing is sitting down with the folks from Citi Bike and saying, ‘What would help in terms of the way things are structured now, what would help you financially, with all the other possibilities that may be there?” Mr. de Blasio said. “We’re open to any proposal they have. Again, at this moment, city budget money is not on the table but we’re open to other alternatives.”

The mayor, when pressed, further said he would be open to state or federal funding to keep the bikes running.

“If we can find that, that certainly would be great,” he said. “But the point is I think it’s a valuable service, it’s proven to be a success, we want to see it continue, we want to see it expand and we’re going to work with them to find alternatives.”

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