Sources: Alta Buyout a Done Deal; Citi Bike Fleet to Double

The REQX Alta purchase bodes well for bike-share in NYC and beyond. Photo: Brad Aaron
The REQX purchase of Alta bodes well for bike-share in NYC and beyond. Photo: Brad Aaron

The buyout of Alta Bicycle Share rumored since July is finally a done deal. REQX Ventures, an affiliate of the Related Companies and its Equinox unit, and Alta Bicycle Share, the company that operates Citi Bike, have agreed to terms on the purchase, according to published accounts and sources familiar with the negotiations.

The injection of capital from REQX is expected to help resolve lingering problems with Citi Bike’s supply chain, software system, and operations, which until now have prevented any expansion of the bike-share network.

The sale was reported Friday by Capital New York’s Dana Rubinstein, and Streetsblog has confirmation from two people with knowledge of the deal.

Rubinstein reported that REQX plans to double the size of the Citi Bike fleet to 12,000 bikes. In July, the expansion was rumored to reach up to 145th Street in Manhattan and into western Queens and another ring of Brooklyn neighborhoods adjacent to the current service area. Annual membership prices are expected to increase about 50 percent.

New management and an infusion of funds from REQX bodes well for all Alta bike-share programs over the next year after a stagnant 2014. Alta’s supply chain troubles have hampered system expansions in Chicago, DC, Boston, and San Francisco, among other cities.

The city is expected to make an official announcement soon. However, Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg refused to discuss the Alta deal at a press conference earlier today about NYC’s new 25 mph speed limit.

  • BBnet3000

    Very interested to see the new map. Not a member currently but have planned to join at some point, if it makes it to my neighborhood I will pretty much be out of excuses.

    It takes me ~40 minutes to get to work at the moment though, so doing it in less than 45 on a Citibike might not be possible.

  • Mike

    Any word on where the next phase of expansion will be?

  • qrt145

    Why do we only hear of the closing of this long-expected deal from “sources”? Not even an official press release? I half-expected a public closing ceremony! 🙂

  • walknseason

    I’m nervous that this buyout will de-unionize the workers (on account of the buyer being a Fatcat Corporation). Any news on that?

  • Does anyone have any links showing where REQX has properties in the areas expecting expansion? I’d imagine they would serve those clients first .

  • I’m okay with paying 50% more. I get my money’s worth even though I live in Jackson Heights. I only work in the city 1 to 2 days per week, but the freedom of having a bike as an option to jump on at anytime (when I don’t commute in) saves me more than the price. And now maybe there might be some bikes within reach in Queens with expansion!

  • Can someone explain how buying Alta solved the supply issues? Alta was the operator, they bought the bikes from Canada. The Canadian company was the one that went under, were they bought out too?

    Also, DC has been expanding this year by buying used stations from Ottawa. 40 “new” ones.

  • Jeffrey Baker
  • Reader

    Just guessing, but I’m assuming the terms of the contract (to which the city was also party) lay out in general terms when and where the expansion will take place. Not that REQX would be against serving its clients first, but it seems unlikely that will be a primary or even secondary factor in overall neighborhood selection.

  • Exactly what I want to know.

  • So Alta affiliated with REQX, affiliated with Related, who is probably affiliated with someone else haha. If I get bored I’ll map out those locations and see where they fall up to 145st Street and in Queens and especially where they sit in relation to existing bike share stations.

  • Eddie

    Will Citi Bike be renamed “Bike REQX” (pronounced “wrecks”)?

    Is Related expecting to make money on this venture, or is it entirely philanthropic?

  • That’s definitely a good and fair point. I suppose I’m thinking that way because if their properties fall within the scope of possible sites I could see the company preferring to build there. The land might be cheaper since they have ownership over it and they can better influence the residents of the area. You could even say they would double dip by charging residents for housing and transportation.

  • Anne A

    I’m glad to hear that the buyout is finally done.

  • vgXhc

    Bixi International and its intellectual property were bought by a Montreal furniture guy. So I guess they’d have to license the IP from him? Bixi never made the bikes themselves but had them made by various Canadian companies.
    The lastest Alta system in Seattle uses bike that are similar but different from the Bixi bikes.

  • com63

    It is Related and Equinox. Look for these things to be branded as amenities for their apartment buildings, office buildings and gyms. It is potentially a great synergy and Related has deep pockets to make expansion happen.

  • Ari_FS

    During the first phase, DOT did try to place stations near Citibank branches. So, I imagine REQX will be able to place stations near their properties that are in the service area. But if a property isn’t in the service area it’s not getting a station.

  • Anon resident

    Very narrow minded that bike share is not at every SUNY or CUNY campus. That’s a no-brainer. I do question anything affiliated with former NYCEDC president Seth Pinsky who seems to promote himself, and in his past position failed New Yorkers with the lack of transparency at NYCEDC, which still continues.

  • Ari_FS

    Stations are generally on public land (streets and sidewalks). In this case, the land is “free.”

  • JudenChino

    Related Companies also owns SoulCycle. Looks like they’re carving out their niche.

    Glad the Citibike is finally getting some PE money.

  • BBnet3000

    Ever see an EDC-built bikeway? They view cycling as an economic development tool to attract yuppies, not as a real form of transportation.

  • Any concrete details on what will happen with the current discounted rate? https://www.citibikenyc.com/pricing/discounted

  • Conscience_of_a_conservative

    Are the citibikes being maintained? I’m hearing stories about bikes with bad brakes and gears that don’t shift properly. These are heavy bikes and if they can’t stop that’s a great deal of momentum impact to whoever is at the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • Maggie

    I’m wondering about this too. Related bid at that auction too, IIRC, and bid higher than the Montreal source, but the Canadians awarded it to the local guy. Wonder how that plays out now.

  • Maggie

    It’s pretty awesome, how many neighborhoods end up clamoring for this. (Myself definitely included!) Nice to see the program has been so popular here. I’m excited to see what Related does with it.

  • Albert

    Don’t forget, BBnet3000–you can simply dock your Citibike at any station you pass along the way—say, at the 30-minute mark—and take out a different bike, which will reset your timer to a new 45 minutes. That one change could effectively give you near 90 minutes for a single commute, depending on how late you swap it out.

  • sam

    There’s a citibank branch every 12 feet in this city. You might be equating correlation with causation.

  • Lacking CitiBikes

    A report in the summer speculated expansion would begin next year (2015) and be completed in 2017 http://nocitibikesat54and9.blogspot.com/2014/10/what-citibike-deal-will-mean-for-riders.html

  • Mike

    Thanks for that.

  • lop

    Only if they let you get a bike with no delay. If they make you wait three minutes before taking out another bike it’s much less appealing. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it even longer if they offer a premium membership that let’s you bike fore 60 or more minutes without a surcharge.

  • Albert

    There’s no delay. I’ve done it many times.

  • It would be great if community bikes could be offered by community businesses or credit unions.

    Wall Street banks are really bad, please see the award winning documentary “inside Job” and..

    http://www.propublica.org/article/how-citibank-dumped-lousy-mortgages-on-the-government

  • Eddie

    Jay Walder will be named the new head of the company formerly known as Alta Bicycle Share.

    http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/exclusive-mta-head-jay-walder-named-citi-bike-boss-sources-blog-entry-1.1989899

  • There is a deal in which members of the Lower East Side People’s Credit Union can get a discounted membership, at least. I always wondered whether I could ride a Citi BIke to an Occupy-style “Move Your Money” event. 😉

  • NYU has a campus bike share system, which might serve as a model.

  • Anne A

    My understanding is that Citibike is being affected by the same basic issues as Chicago’s Divvy Bikes and other systems using the same equipment. Maintenance has been more challenging due to availability problems with parts. Here in Chicago, we’ve been seeing more bikes out of service for this reason. I’m sure that NY folks are doing as we are – locking bikes into the docks for service if they are having significant enough issues to affect safe operation.

  • andrelot

    A bike-share system inevitable needs a large geographical scope within the city to work, else one of their major advantages (multiples points to pick or drop the bike) disappears. ‘Community businesses’ cannot do that.

  • iSkyscraper

    Yeah, Ottawa is one of the few Bixi cities to dump the system entirely – they switched to CycleHop.

  • KG18

    Then they can put up some money… Simple really.

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