03/21/2014 12:01 pm ET Updated Mar 21, 2014

Whole Citi Bike Thing Not Working Out Great So Far


Despite its popularity, New York City's bike-share program is struggling to make money and is reportedly looking to City Hall for help.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Citi Bike officials are specifically hoping to raise current rates -- 24-hour and weekly passes are $9.95 and $25 respectively.

Officials have approached members of Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration to greenlight the hike, WSJ reports, hoping to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to rescue the program.

Citi Bike, launched last May, to much fanfare and was touted as a hallmark success under Michael Bloomberg's final year as mayor.

The program was also widely welcomed because it relied heavily on outside sponsorships, namely through a $41 million deal with Citigroup. That plus additional advertising meant that Citi Bike cost taxpayers nothing.

"We’re very happy with the results, and there was no guarantee it would work,” Citigroup’s executive vice president for global public affairs Ed Skyler told Businessweek back in October.

But while Citi Bike enjoyed high level of ridership during the first few months of its launch--5.1 million rides and 432,000 passes in just the first five--the program took a significant hit as colder temperatures moved in.

Operators at Alta, the company that manages the program, were also forced to reckon with this past winter's relentless number of snowstorms, in which workers scrambled to transport thousands of bikes out of docking stations to safer sidewalks and plaza stations.

In addition, the program has failed to attract enough tourists to use its bikes, a problem largely rooted in computer glitches in its payment methods. Furthermore, as much as 10 percent of docking stations are broken on any given day.

Officials have also had difficulties securing additional corporate sponsors to foot the bill.

When asked if Citi Bike would soon resort to seeking public funds, the city's transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg told City Council members earlier this month, "We're not there yet. We need to make sure that the current system is stable and has a good, viable operation."