I am here today to discuss the potential expansion of Citi Bike to all five boroughs, and the need to create new revenue streams to drive that expansion forward.
Over the past eight years, my borough has seen tremendous new investment. Not only have we attracted new businesses and built thousands of new housing units of all types, we have brought record infrastructure spending to The Bronx, as well.
The Grand Concourse is undergoing major renovations, and many of our subway stations have seen complete overhauls. Most significantly, we have secured the nearly $1 billion in funding for the long awaited East Bronx Metro North Expansion, thanks to strong partnerships with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the MTA.
Despite such record investment, transit equity continues to elude us in a very high-profile way.
Citi Bike is nowhere to be found in The Bronx. That must change.
In August 2015, I was shocked when Citi Bike announced that they had expanded to, of all places, Jersey City. How could Citi Bike go to New Jersey before it goes to all five boroughs? The City in Citi Bike has to mean something. Since then, I have heard from my constituents, over and over again, that they feel slighted by the lack of a Bronx bike sharing option.
We have an opportunity to fix that.
With transit fares set to rise, it is incumbent upon this city to do what it can to provide more options for affordable transportation throughout not only The Bronx, but across the five boroughs.
A Citi Bike membership—at just $155 per year—is not only a cost-effective means of transportation, but can also help remove cars from our roads and ease congestion on other mass transit options.
Citi Bike has always endeavored to be a five borough entity, and to serve as an essential part of our transit system. Bike sharing, we are told, works best not as an alternative to buses and subways, but as a piece of the total transit puzzle—an integrated part of our existing public transit system.
Right now, Citi Bike is funded entirely through private funds and revenues generated by memberships. Though taxpayer assets such as street space have been used to further its expansion, not a penny of direct taxpayer funding has been granted to the program.
Contrast that with other forms of public transportation, which are publicly subsidized. And, that is how we have to view Citi Bike, as an important part of our public transportation infrastructure and network.
To that end, City Hall must consider providing Citi Bike with an infusion of taxpayer funds. This funding, when combined with existing and new private revenue, can accelerate the expansion of bike sharing to all five boroughs.
Mayor de Blasio has stated publicly that Citi Bike must be expanded to The Bronx. To make that happen, the City must allocate funding to expand bike sharing across all five boroughs, ensuring that Citi Bike ventures to new areas after 2017. With a strong public financing commitment, new sponsors could be brought to the program. A commitment from the city would undoubtedly lead to an even greater commitment from private partners.
My office is committed to working with City Hall to developing the plan to expand Citi Bike to The Bronx.
With an infusion of public funding, we can make such an expansion a reality.