To the dismay of cyclists, the New York City Department of Transportation announced that won’t launch until March 2013.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on his radio show Friday morning that software problems are the cause of the delays.
“Unfortunately there are software issues. One of the newspapers keeps writing, ‘you’re hiding something.’ Yeah, well, nothing. The software doesn’t work. Duh. Until it works, we’re not going to put it out until it does work,” said the mayor.
“It really is very advanced technology. Each station is like a dock, each place you stick in a bike is a computer, and everything runs on solar power so you don’t need a lot of wiring and there’s no burden on the electrical system. There’s an enormous number of transactions you have to communicate in real time to central computers,” the mayor added.
When it does launch, there will be an initial phase of 7,000 bikes at 420 stations around the city. The new timeline won’t affect the Citi Bike sponsorship structure, which uses $41 million in funding from Citi to support the system for five years and ensures that the city will get half of the profits.
“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 One,” said DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, in a statement on the delay.
Transportation Alternatives also released an optimistic statement on the bike share delay.
“While we are eager for Citi Bike to begin, it’s more crucial that this ground-breaking transit system 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, 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—this is not a moment to rush,” said Executive Director, Paul Steely White.
Following the March launch, the system will expand to 10,000 bikes, covering parts of Manhattan and from Long Island City to parts of Brooklyn.