Here’s a new one, Citi Bike, a bike-sharing program in New York City, is being required to reimburse New York for revenue lost since 2013. According to the Wall Street Journal:
Such parking reimbursement requirements aren’t common, according to Paul DeMaio, a consultant in Washington, D.C. and who oversees Arlington, Va.’s portion of the area’s Capital Bikeshare, which is also operated by Alta (a Portland, Ore.-based company that runs Citi Bike through its subsidiary NYC Bike Share).
“This is highly unusual in the bike-sharing world and I’m not aware of other municipalities doing this,” Mr. DeMaio said in an email.
The reimbursement is meant to cover the loss of income from several parking spots Citi Bike uses as docking stations for its bicycles. The amount in question, $1 million, represents 10 percent of Citi Bike’s annual membership dues. Another negative aspect of the program’s contract with the city is that it cannot raise fees without permission.
While Citi Bike is growing in popularity and facing some difficulty meeting the demand for its service, it’s not allowed to increase prices to pay for additional bikes, stations, or maintenance.
Everybody loves parking, but some people want the option to rent a bike. Both options should be offered without a forced co-dependence. Over-regulation only hurts progress. The Wall Street Journal reports:
Cutting Alta a break on lost parking revenue could be construed as an effective public subsidy, and could raise political and philosophical questions about whether taxpayers should support New York City’s bike-share.
Proponents see such programs as an emerging form of mass transit and tout their public benefits: reducing automobile pollution and helping riders stay healthy through exercise.
Cutting Alta a break and letting this program thrive – or dive – according to the principles of capitalism is another idea.