Software issues have been a running theme since the beginning of Citi Bike’s existence. They began in August 2012, when the program saw a significant delay in its launch because, as Mayor Bloomberg pointed out, “The software doesn’t work.” And now, because of software malfunctions, it seems that the program still doesn’t work. Docking problems, kiosk unresponsiveness, and other software-related issues are very prevalent according to the NY Daily News, Boston Globe, and others.
But are these issues being blown out of proportion by the anti-Citi Bike community (NY Daily News has been notoriously anti-Citi Bike) or is this something for Citi Bike users and advocates to be concerned about?
First off, it seems that the complaints aren’t universal. Co-founder of Gothamist, Jake Dobkin tweeted, “I’ve taken 8 @CitibikeNYC trips and only had one small docking problem (had to move to a second dock)- that’s not bad for first two weeks!” That comment was echoed by 32 year-old art director Michael Sutton-Long, who says, “Docking is usually fine, though, twice I’ve had problems… But it strikes me that these are teething problems and it will all be fine; the issues haven’t interfered at all with my use and enjoyment of the scheme.”
Sutton-Long brings up a salient point. Launching a large-scale transportation system is going to come with its initial problems and, over time, those issues are expected to be resolved. And many New Yorkers understand that–but they also want a timely response from Alta Bicycle Share, the system’s operator. “Everything takes time to work properly,” said John Hanson to the Boston Globe. “But by the Fourth of July, it better be rolling like it’s been here for five years.”
Two weeks after its launch, the program has already had well over 150,000 trips and, collectively, Citi Bike users travelled nearly half a million miles–or enough to make it to the moon and back. Despite it’s initial issues, Citi Bike is clearly getting a lot of people to a lot of places. And, if users are unable to return bikes because of dock issues, they can call the customer service line and get reimbursed for the overages.