You may remember that NYC launched their huge (and long overdue) CitiBike bike share over the Memorial Day weekend. Mostly, good things are being said about it. However, all is not rosy in the Big Apple, as Felix Salmon reports for Reuters that there appears to be a sizeable software issue:
The answer, it seems, is that it does work; it just doesn’t work very well. Or, to be a bit more precise, when it works, it works fabulously. But when it doesn’t work — which is all too often — it doesn’t work at all.
He goes on to state:
I’m not certain, however, that Alta and PBSC [the contract holders] are on top of this problem and know how they’re going to fix it. They’ve had an extra year to get this right, but if the app doesn’t know when a station isn’t working, my guess is that the system as a whole doesn’t know that either. And that’s going to be hard to fix. What’s more, if there’s some kind of failsafe mechanism which shuts down an entire station when some reasonably common thing happens, that mechanism is likely baked into the system and will also be hard to patch with some kind of simple software update.
Read the full article by visiting the Reuters page.
At least one group is doing something about the outages…not to fix them, but to at least monitor them and alert users which docks are working. WNYC reports that:
Ten months ago, when Mayor Bloomberg announced Citi Bike would be delayed, he explained why: “The software doesn’t work. Duh,” he said on his weekly radio show. “Until it works, we’re not going to put it out until it does work.” Two weeks after the system launched, complaints of software failures are rife. And though the city refuses to release specific information on outages, a WNYC analysis indicates on any given day, about ten percent of docks have been failing.
Moreover, the city had ample warning the software was buggy — and launched anyway.
Luckily, they got the data on those stations and developed a real-time map that shows the stations and outages:
We love the idea of bikeshare schemes, and hope that CitiBike figures out the problems in a timely fashion. New York City can really use this bike share, and the system there is expected to grow rapidly over the next years — if they can get over their teething pains and straighten things out.