March 11, 2019 03:19 PM Jump bikes, in PR war with Citi Bike, to launch subscription offer

Jump Bikes, the Brooklyn-based pioneer of pedal-assist e-bikes, is making its service cheaper. Starting in May, Uber-owned Jump—whose New York operation is limited to a city-run pilot program—will be testing a subscription model that will cost roughly $20 a month.

For regular users, that's a bargain compared to its current cost of $2 per 30-minute ride, especially considering that the subscription is good for 60 minutes daily, after which rides cost 7 cents per minute. And it's even more of a bargain compared with what Citi Bike will soon charge for a pedal-assist ride.

Showing up Citi Bike is, in fact, pretty much the whole point of the new offering, which will apply to a total of 400 bikes split between the North Shore of Staten Island and the Fordham area of the Bronx.

Both Jump and Lime—another dockless pilot program participant—are itching to expand their service in the city. They have been feeling increasingly hemmed in ever since the city's Department of Transportation struck a deal in November that doubled Citi Bike's exclusive area of operations in exchange for new owner Lyft investing $100 million in the program.

Pointing to cities with multiple bike-share options, Jump and Lime argue that more players will mean more transportation choices for people who need them most—New Yorkers living far from subway stops.

Citi Bike provided an opening for that argument when it announced last month that it would increase the number of pedal-assist bicycles in its fleet to 4,000 from 200—and add a $2 fee. A 30-minute ride on a pedal-assist electric Citi Bike now costs a non-subscriber $5. Starting April 27, subscribers will add the charge to their annual $169 payment.

The hike did not go over well with advocates and elected officials concerned about keeping transportation alternatives affordable.

"Citi Bike's recent announcement of a $2 fee," wrote City Council member Antonio Reynoso in a letter to Lyft, "undermines this goal."

Jump could not agree more. It would like the city to consider expanding Jump's service area.

"We believe e-bikes should be available, and affordable, for every New Yorker no matter if they live in the South Bronx or SoHo," said an Uber spokesman. "A subscription model, with no hidden fees, will make it easier for people to leave their car at home, and we hope the Department of Transportation will allow more New Yorkers to take advantage of the service by expanding access to Jump bikes."

Citi Bike, however, has not ruled out including e-bikes in future subscription offerings. In last month's announcement the company said it would "gather rider feedback and input before introducing new membership options later this spring."

It responded to Reynoso's letter with a statement saying it shared his concerns about "transportation equity and access" and that it looked forward to "engaging in a dialogue about the right way to balance our increased costs for electric bikes with providing great service to all New Yorkers."

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