The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the Chicago bike share program, Divvy, which was supposed to launch this Friday, is being delayed two weeks to allow for additional testing of the system’s components. Gabe Klein, the head of CDOT, told the Tribune, “We had a few pieces of equipment arrive late, so we couldn’t do the extensive testing we would like to do. But the decision was also based on an over-abundance of caution.”
Divvy will be using the same software and equipment that Citi Bike has used. And, as our readers are well aware, the Citi Bike system has seen its fair share of software and equipment issues. It is reasonable to assume that the delay is related to Citi Bike’s onslaught of software problems.
“They told me they need more time to test the system to make sure everything is going to work properly: checking out bikes, re-docking bikes, being able to sweep your credit card to get a bike,” said Ron Burke of Chicago’s Active Transportation Alliance.
“We would rather the city delay a couple weeks than risk a sub-par service. This is sort of like the grand opening for the latest, coolest roller-coaster at the amusement park. The line just got a little longer. But I’m not getting out of line. A two-week delay in a system that will be around for decades is disappointing, but it’s not that big a deal.”
Chicago and New York’s operator, Alta Bicycle Share, has seen operations in DC and Boston go with relatively few software issues–however, the software for those programs was created by 8D Technologies–and PBSC, Alta’s equipment supplier, has since parted ways with 8D and attempted to develop its own software. 8D filed a lawsuit against PBSC in April of 2012 because it claims that PBSC illegally excluded 8D from future bike share contracts and had its software redeveloped.
That redeveloped software is now the brains of Chattanooga, New York, and soon-to-be Chicago. While issues in Chattanooga have been mild, the program’s manager Philip Pugliese says that working in a much smaller scale has made addressing docking and software issues much easier as compared to New York.
If the issues in New York do not get resolved in a timely manner and Chicago’s system continues to be delayed, we can expect even the most patient bike share advocates of New York and Chicago to get restless and lose support for the programs.