My cuz in NYC shared this with me
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg attributed the decision to delay the program, which had been scheduled to begin in July, to software programs. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/18/nyregion/bike-share-program-delay...
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said on Friday that the city’s much-heralded bike share program will not begin until next year, ending weeks of speculation about the program’s fate and dashing cyclists’ hopes of seeing the city’s newest public travel alternative this year.
Speaking on his morning radio show, Mr. Bloomberg attributed the decision to software problems, which he has cited repeatedly in recent weeks amid calls for a further explanation for the delay.
“The software doesn’t work. Duh,” the mayor said. “You’re not going to put it out until it does work.”
By the spring, he added, “hopefully the software will work.” The program was scheduled to begin last month.
Shortly after the mayor’s comments, the city released a more detailed timeline. In March 2013, the Transportation Department said, the program will begin with 7,000 bikes at 420 stations.
“New York City demands a world-class bike-share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on Day 1,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the transportation commissioner, said in a statement.
Under the original plan, the program, operated by Alta Bicycle Share, was to begin with a partial rollout this summer, then expand to a total of 10,000 bikes and 600 stations by summer 2013.
Though Alta’s contract called for it to begin the program in July, the city’s comments in recent days suggest a financial penalty for the company is unlikely.
The Transportation Department said Friday that “the timeline, agreed to by all parties, does not affect the Citi Bike sponsorship structure, which uses $41 million in private funding from Citi to underwrite the system for five years.”
“The people that are putting up the money understand,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “They’re probably not any happier about it than the people who want to rent the bikes or you and me or everybody else. But that’s the real world.”
Alta has encountered delays to its programs in other cities. Last week, the city of Chicago announced that its program would be delayed until next spring, after initially planning to begin in late summer. An Alta program in Chattanooga, Tenn., was also delayed because of software problems, though it began last month.
Some have attributed the software glitches to an ongoing dispute between Public Bike System Company, Alta’s Montreal-based partner, and 8D Technologies, which supplied the software for successful programs in Boston and Washington, among other cities.
Public Bike System Company has severed ties with 8D for the installation of new technology in cities like New York and Chattanooga. The change was likely responsible for the delays, said Isabelle Bettez, the chief executive of 8D.
“What was sold to these cities is not what, at the end of the day, will be installed,” Ms. Bettez said in an interview last week. “The technological solution is a big, big part of the system, not the one that you necessarily see. You see it when it doesn’t work.”
Asked on Friday about the criticism of Alta in recent weeks, Alison Cohen, the company’s president, said she “can’t comment on what other people are saying.”
“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the timeline,” she said. “We regret that it happened in this way.”
Ms. Sadik-Khan said the city became aware of the software issues in the spring. When city officials were informed about a new software supplier, she said, they did not anticipate that codes would be written “from scratch.”
A 2013 start date, Ms. Sadik-Khan said, allowed the city “more than enough time to work out the remaining issues” with the new operating code, which she described as “everything from the Internet transactions to locks at bike share stations.”New York City would continue to expand the system to 10,000 bikes after the March rollout, officials said, though no time frame was set.
The news came as a disappointment, if not a total surprise, to city cyclists. Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group that has worked alongside the city to promote the program, said it was critical for the bike share to “be launched correctly, not quickly.”
“New York’s public bike-share program will not only be the largest bike-share system in the Western Hemisphere,” he said in a statement, “it will also be the city’s first brand-new, full-scale form of public transit since the subway’s debut more than 100 years ago.”
Mr. White added in an interview that with a spring start, cycling might become a more potent political issue in the coming mayoral election. “It arguably improves the public perception, the political perception, leading up to the election,” he said. “There will be several consecutive months of heavy bike use.”
John C. Liu, the city comptroller, who issued a report in June warning that the city could face lawsuits from bike accidents when the program began, said Friday that the delay provided an “opportunity to address the remaining safety issues associated with the plan.”<nyt_correction_bottom>