The city’s first bike share program will soon become a reality in Queens.
The news came as former MTA chairman and CEO Jay Walder was named the incoming CEO of Alta Bicycle Share, the operator of Citi Bike. Alta was recently bought by investment firm REQX Ventures, according to published reports.
“Even as we are enhancing and improving our system we will expand it as well, we will double the number of bikes and we will bring them to new neighborhoods in Upper Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens,” Walder said.
As part of the announcement, the Department of Transportation (DOT), Alta and Citi said the bike share system would expand from 330 stations and 6,000 bicycles to more than 700 stations and 12,000 bikes by the end of 2017.
Along with expanding the bike share program, Citi Bike will also overhaul every bicycle in the system, fix every existing docking station and enhance the technology used in the program.
“Anyone who uses Citi Bike regularly knows that it should be more reliable, it should be easier to use and it should be accessible to more of the city,” Walder said. “In short, Citi Bike has the potential to be so much more and today we are committing to make that potential a reality.”
While being committed to improving the service, the price rates for annual membership will jump from $95 to $149.
Although the locations of stations in western Queens have yet to be announced, local elected officials are excited that Queens will finally become a part of the Citi Bike Share program.
“Once and for all the blue bikes are in Queens,” said Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. “There is no such thing as a citywide program that does not include the great borough of Queens.”
State Sen. Michael Gianaris worked with DOT last year to include Astoria in the Citi Bike plans. There are also plans to include other parts of Queens in the future, according to officials.
Last November the DOT started the process of bringing the bike share program to the western Queens neighborhoods by getting community input from Community Boards 1 and 2.
Now the agency will go back to working with the community to reassess the recommended sites for stations and see if any have changed.
“We want these blue bikes here as soon as possible because people are going to be able to experience Queens in a way that they haven’t, see our cultural institutions, shop at our restaurants, explore the wonders of the waterfront and folks from here are going to be able to have another opportunity to get around,” Van Bramer said.
Long Island City was supposed to be part of the Citi Bike’s initial phase, which debuted last May, but was pushed back after equipment damages from Superstorm Sandy caused a delay.