Mayor Bloomberg and Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit unveiled new details today about the forthcoming New York City bike-share program, to debut in July, brought to you by the bank’s $41 million sponsorship. In exchange, the 10,000 bikes will be bright-blue roving billboards dubbed “Citi Bikes,” while MasterCard is putting in another $6.5 million to sponsor the payment systems at 600 stations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Long Island City. But all of the corporate goodwill doesn’t make renting a bike especially cheap.
"Subways and buses don’t always go where you want to go, and that can mean a long walk or a taxi ride. Now New Yorkers will have another option — hop on a Citi Bike," Bloomberg said, not dwelling on the numbers.
Membership will run each rider $95 for a year, $25 for a week, and $9.95 for a day, but that only gets you 30 free minutes at a time (or 45 for annual customers). From there, an additional 30 minutes is $4, while 60 more minutes is $13, and 90 more is an extra $25, plus $12 for each half-hour onward.
As Felix Salmon points out, that’s more expensive than similar programs in Washington, D.C., and London, where a six-hour bike-riding day would be much less than New York’s $131. For a one-off day trip, the subway is a much better deal, and even a taxi could be more cost-effective. This system only seems worth it for commuting from one place to another relatively quickly. Oh, and a lost bike is $1,000.