I have been using CitiBikeNY since the first day on May 27th.
In 15 days I have made 22 rides. In most cases the bike ride has replaced a subway run, in some case a cab ride and in others a simple walk. If I keep the same frequency of use, assuming 8 months out of 12 for traveling and bad weather, I am going to ride the bike about 360 times a year, saving about $1,200 as well as getting some exercise. Not bad!
So this is what I like about CitiBikeNY:
(1) bikes are really good: I have tried many of them and the performance is very consistent. Easy to ride, good balance between lightness and reliability, they have lights both in the front and in the rear.
(2) The mobile app is nicely done:
allows citibikers to know which are the closest bike stations and more importantly how many bikes are available at each station in real time
(3) The service platform is very functional too. It shows all your trips, from which I derived the stats above, and expose nice APIs to developers. I expect some interesting apps coming out soon (my friend @fabrygio is currently developing one pretty cool)
There is some room for improvements as well:
- bikers drop off bikes at the station in a “require maintenance” mode; those bikes are not available for riding (until unblocked) but they show up in the app as available at the stations. A couple of times I went to a station but no bike was avialable;
- the web site is a bit clunky; it doesn’t remember the password (it should allow a fb connect or login with twitter);
- customer service is really underwelming: I sent them 2 emails but I never got an answer. 800-number has long waiting time and works during limited hours; no engagement on twitter.
I understand to ramp up this service is very complex, however the start is very promising. I have also read that they are shipping new keys in batches and a long waiting list is out there. We may expect more people on the system with lower availability of bikes.
But definitely it is a fantastic addition to the NYC mass transit system that is making my life easier and healthier
UPDATE: the other day I used the bike for over 30m (actually 44). I haven’t been billed the $4.00 yet. I suspect overtime billing is not ready yet