How will Citi Bike spend sponsors’ funds?

In a few months, New York City will be home to 10,000 brand new two-wheelers as part of its first city bike share system, named Citi Bike after lead sponsor Citigroup, which has pledged $41 million in support.

Starting at $10 for a daily pass or $95 for an annual membership, with surcharges after the first half hour for daily users and 45 minutes for members, these are not cheap travel options. Some commuters are already swearing off the these Citi Bikes even before the bright blue fleet is activated, claiming they’d rather buy cheaper bikes or a monthly subway pass.

These steep fees were set despite sponsorships from private sources, which also include MasterCard. The City expects to make a profit from the bike share system — which would be the largest and only privately funded one in the nation — which it would then split with the New York City subsidiary of Alta Bicycle Share, the company running and operating Citi Bike.

Which brings the New York World to ask: What will happen to the money from bike share sponsors?

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What we found

The World sent inquiries to the city Department of Transportation, Citigroup and Alta Bicycle Share about the projected annual profits of the bike share system and the profit-splitting process. We also requested for copies of the sponsorship agreements and Alta’s contract with the City of New York.

Citi and Alta did not respond to our requests. The Department of Transportation said we would have to seek that the supporting documents and information via a freedom of information request. We’ll file a request and let you know what we receive, when we receive it.

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