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NYC: Citi Bike program a major success

An undated photo of a Citibike rider in

An undated photo of a Citibike rider in Manhattan. Credit: Getty Images

The inaugural summer of the city's bike-share program, which launched May 27, has been a major success, according to the New York City Department of Transportation.

More than 288,000 subscriptions to Citi Bike have been registered as of Thursday.

Bike advocates say the program's popularity doesn't just exceed expectations; it gives the city more incentive for expansion. "I think looking at those numbers, it's shown that it's done exceptionally better than what anyone thought," said Caroline Samponaro, senior director of campaigns and organizing for the nonprofit Transportation Alternatives advocacy group.

City DOT officials said they knew the program was a hit a day after registration began, when 3,000 people applied to be among the first riders. They said they are impressed that Citi Bike's popularity hasn't waned, as the bikes have logged 6.6 million miles so far.

As of Thursday, there were 80,826 annual members, who pay $95 a year plus tax for 45-minute trips; 21,187 members who pay a weekly rate of $25 plus tax for half-hour trips; and 186,902 members who have signed up to pay a daily rate of $9.95 plus tax for half-hour trips. Riders pay extra when they go over their initial time limit, but can dock a bike and immediately take it out again to reset the timer.

The service, which celebrated its 100th day of operation Sept. 4, provides 6,000 bikes at 330 stations in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Calculations done by amNewYork found the city collected a combined $10,067,819 in revenue from the fees alone so far, not including taxes and overtime charges. A DOT spokesman could not provide an exact figure on how much money Citi Bike has made.

Since Citigroup provides the funding for the $41-million program, the city has pocketed a lot of the revenue, according to Samponaro. Plus, she said, riders get a good bargain.

"Relatively speaking, it's incredibly cheap to ride bike share. It's just a quarter a day to ride unlimited trips, 40 minutes a trip," she said.

Citi Bike is expected to generate $36 million for the city each year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said before the program launched.

The transportation department plans to bring Citi Bike to more parts of Brooklyn, upper Manhattan and western Queens, but doesn't have a start date. Samponaro predicted that the eventual expansion will continue to drive demand throughout the city and inspire other global cities to be more bike friendly.

"There is something to be said for the world looking at New York. If it can work in New York, it can work anywhere," she said.

Cycles of success

Bike facts as of Sept. 12:

3,174,977 total trips

6,680,100 total miles

186,902 daily subscriptions

21,187 weekly subscriptions

80,826 annual subscriptions

Total gross from membership fees according to amNewYork calculations (not including taxes and overtime charges)

$9.95 daily memberships: $1,859,674

$25 weekly memberships: $529,675

$95 annual memberships $7,678,470

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