The de Blasio administration has come to a tentative agreement to boost the troubled Citi Bike program.
The administration reportedly approved a deal between REQX Ventures and Alta Bicycle Share. Talks between the three parties started in May.
Under the terms of the agreement, REQX, an investment firm formed by the Equinox gym chain and its owner Related Companies, would buy at least 51 percent of Alta Bicycle Share. Alta, a Portland, Ore. based company, currently runs the New York bike share program.
As part of the deal, REQX would also gain control over bike-share programs in Toronto, Chicago, Columbus, Chattanooga, Boston, the Bay area, Washington and Melbourne, Australia. It would also give the company the authority to raise the annual fee without approval from the city.
Sources told Capital NY that REQX would install new software and use revenues derived from rate hikes to stabilize the system’s finances.
De Blasio previously said that he wants to expand the program, but did not want to invest any more public funds into the bike share. The program has encountered financial troubles from the start. Recently, Citi Bike received a $1 million parking ticket from the city. Hurricane Sandy also slammed Citi Bike, damaging stored equipment.
The agreement has not yet been finalized by the city.
Though more than 100,000 New Yorkers have paid the $95 annual membership for the bike-share program, those users generate less revenue than those who use the bikes on 24-hour passes, which cost $9.95 plux tax, or those who pay $25-plus-tax for a seven-day pass, as previously reported. The bike share program has been hailed by the real estate industry as a hot new amenityfor New York City residential properties, though a few buildings have tangled with the city in an effort to remove stations from in front of locales like Petrosino Square, 99 Bank Street and the Plaza Hotel. [Capital NY] – Claire Moses and Julie Strickland