With Lyft in Trouble, Will Citi Bike Ride On?

The popular NYC bike share system will likely survive the company’s current financial setbacks, but other, smaller bike share systems may not be so lucky.

2 minute read

April 9, 2023, 5:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Times Square

A Citi Bike bike share station in New York City. | Fotos593 / Shutterstock

What does trouble at the company operating four of the top five bike share systems in the United States mean for shared bike systems and, more specifically, for New York City’s Citi Bike? Alissa Walker asks this question in Curbed, assessing how Lyft’s recent financial woes could impact U.S. bike share systems operated by the ride-hailing giant. 

Walker describes the company’s history with bike share, starting with its acquisition of Motivate in 2018. “Lyft originally positioned its foray into bike share as part of building the ultimate multimodal-transportation app, bundling its ride-hailing services with bike or e-scooter rental or the ability to buy transit tickets.”

Now, with its financial future in peril, Lyft has killed some of its bike share systems altogether and increased prices in others. According to Walker, cities are once again looking at forming their own municipally owned bike share systems—a more common feature pre-Bird and Lyft—to limit the volatility and maintain service.

Walker predicts that “Even if Lyft starts making bike-share cuts in the name of cost savings, it’s unlikely New York City will see the same fate as Minneapolis,” where Lyft abruptly ended service last month. “Citi Bike — which has seen a 33 percent year-over-year increase in ridership so far in 2023 — also has the model that’s preferred by Lyft: an exclusive, multiyear, public-private partnership that Lyft says justifies infrastructural improvements and service expansions.” But the future may not be as bright for smaller cities who can’t afford the same level of commitment and funding.

Thursday, April 6, 2023 in Curbed

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