Transportation

Citi Bike is for sale


Lyft is exploring a sale of its bike and scooter business, which includes New York City’s popular Citi Bike. The news comes several months after the struggling ridehail company laid off a third of its workforce in an effort to reduce costs.

Lyft has “received strong inbound interest in our bikes and scooters business,” the company said in a statement. “It’s only logical for Lyft to listen to credible proposals and explore strategic partners and options in several forms to serve more riders in more cities.”

Whether Lyft strikes a partnership with an investor that infuses cash into the division or sells the business outright remains to be seen. Either way, Lyft wants the rental bikes and scooters to continue to be listed on its app so riders aren’t disrupted, according to The Wall Street Journal.

In 2018, Lyft acquired Motivate, the largest bikeshare operator in North America, for a reported $250 million. At the time, freestanding, or dockless, bikes and scooters were starting to crop up in cities across the country. But Lyft decided that docked systems — bikes that could be locked and unlocked from fixed docking stations — were the savvier move. Cities were cracking down on dockless operators in part because they competed with preexisting bike share programs.

Lyft decided that docked systems — bikes that could be locked and unlocked from fixed docking stations — were the savvier move

Lyft continued to spend money on bikes and scooters, acquiring PBSC Urban Solutions, a bikeshare equipment company that supplies docks and bikes for 45 systems globally, in 2022.

But Citi Bike was the crown jewel of Lyft’s bike assets. More than 114,000 people rode Citi Bike each day in June 2023. The system reported more than $14 million in revenue, including over $4 million in membership fees and more than $350,000 in sponsorship money.

And the popularity of Citi Bike continues to grow, with the system reporting a 33 percent year-over-year increase in ridership so far in 2023. The blue bikes have become popular fixtures in the city’s psychic landscape, featuring prominently in TV and film and becoming a desirable and sought-after inclusion in any neighborhood.

But Lyft’s financial situation has darkened considerably this year. Its stock price has plummeted as it continues to lose market share to Uber and shed staff. The company’s founders, Logan Green and John Zimmer, stepped down from their executive roles earlier this year. The new CEO, David Risher, immediately fired over 1,000 employees after stepping into the role. He has rankled the remaining staff with return-to-office requirements and cheesy corporate slogans during meetings, the Journal reports.

Citi Bike, with its exclusive, multiyear contract with the city of New York, is likely to do fine in a sale. But smaller systems that don’t bring in as much revenue or can’t lean on the same type of exclusivity may not fare as well, Curbed wrote earlier this year.



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