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City's Bike Share Program Delayed Until March

By Jill Colvin | August 17, 2012 9:18am

NEW YORK CITY — The rollout of the city’s long-awaited bike share program has been delayed until at least the spring.

After weeks of dodging questions about a final launch date, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced the Citibank-sponsored bikes won’t hit the streets until at least the spring because of a software glitch in contractor Alta’s operating system.

“Unfortunately there are software issues,” he told WOR’s John Gambling during his weekly radio show Friday morning. “The software doesn’t work. Duh. We're not going to put it out until it does work.”

While Bloomberg said the city had considered the possibility of a partial launch before winter hits, at this point they’ve chosen to wait.

“We’re just not going to launch it [until] spring,” he said. “Hopefully the software will work by then.”

The first phase of the launch is now slated for March, with 7,000 bikes docked at 420 pickup and drop-off stations, the Department of Transportation said. The system will eventually expand to 10,000 bikes across parts of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

“New York City demands a world-class bike share system, and we need to ensure that Citi Bike launches as flawlessly as New Yorkers expect on Day One,” DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan said in a statement.

“The enthusiasm for this program continues to grow and we look forward to bringing this affordable new transportation option to New Yorkers without cost to taxpayers," she said.

The company will not have to pay a penalty for the delay, the mayor said.

The city announced the new Paris-style program with great fanfare this summer. At the time, officials said the program's 10,000 new bikes and 600 docking stations would start hitting the streets in July.

But questions began swirling as the clock ticked down with no sign of the new bike displays.

Chicago recently announced that it would also delay its program launch, which is using the same contractor, until warmer weather returns.

The system's problem software uses solar power to control functions including bike tracking and payment systems.