For much of the year, D.C. Department of Transportation officials have pledged that the city would be adding an additional 54 bike share stations throughout the city this fall. But with fall almost over, officials are recalibrating their timeline for the expansion.
John Lisle, a DDOT spokesman, said that although some new stations could be installed by the end of the month, many would not be.
“We are still waiting on equipment for the new stations,” Lisle said. “We are hopeful we will be able to get some down by the end of the year, but we will not get all 54 stations installed this year as planned.”
D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), the chairwoman of Committee on the Environment, Public Works and Transportation, said she is “very disappointed” by the delay. Cheh said she plans to consult with other officials to try to make sure Capital Bikeshare's expansion is not slowed by demand from other cities.
“I think they should owe a high degree of loyalty to us because we were, in a way, sort of launching their operations,” Cheh said. “I think we deserve at least some deference to make sure they are supplying us according to what they promised.”
The delay raises new questions about whether Alta Bicycle Share, the U.S. pattern for Montreal-based Bixi, can keep pace with the growing demand from U.S. cities trying to invest in bike-share programs.
This year, New York City pushed back its planned rollout of its bike share system – slated to be the largest in the United States – until spring because of a reported technological glitch with the equipment.
Officials have stressed that the same technical problems do not exist with Capital Bikeshare because the District’s system is operational.
Meanwhile, more and more cities are trying to launch bike-share programs. It’s unclear wether the demand from cities such as New York and Chicago could slow down expansion of Capital Bikeshare.
In September, Portland officials announced that it the city also selected Alta to launch its bike share program.
Since launching its system in 2010, the District, Arlington and Alexandria have installed about 175 stations with more than 1,670 bikes. But with about 20,000 yearlong members and more than 2 million rides annually, the system has at times struggled to keep up with demand.
Although several stations have been added this year, District’s planned significant increase in the system’s capacity in the District has been in the works since the fall of 2011.
Arlington is also in the midst of trying to add 30 stations to that county.
Alta officials were not immediately available for comment. Capital Bikeshare plans to release more information about the delayed expansion in the December issue of its monthly newsletter.