Did the Decade-Long Deal Benefit Wealthy NYC Insiders While Locking Out Others in the Rapidly Changing Mobility Industry?

New York City officials agreed in December 2017 to renew a monopoly bike sharing contract with Motivate, formerly the owner and operator of Citi Bike. Although they had the option to renew for five years, they extended the contract for a decade.

Then, eight months after the contract was double-extended by the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), the on-demand transportation giant Lyft bought Citi Bike from Motivate, as well as networks in six other cities, for $250 million.

This occurred while a worldwide mobility revolution is occurring, with new transportation options at a fraction of the cost to taxpayers becoming widely accepted.

Checks and Balances Project sent letters of inquiry to two top NYC officials who were key players in those decisions — Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. In the letters, we share our understanding that Motivate is backed by several players with significant ties to NYC government, including investments from former Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff, mega real estate developers and others. We asked the officials if these insiders pushed for the option of extending the contract for ten years?

On Oct. 5, 2018, we spoke to Lolita Avila, assistant press secretary at the NYC DOT, who said she would look into the letter. We also left a message at Dep. Mayor Glen’s office. We and New York City taxpayers look forward to their responses to our questions about this monopoly contract.

You can read the letters by clicking on the images below.

mobility mobility


Scott Peterson is executive director of Checks and Balances Project, an investigative blog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public. Funding for C&BP comes from sustainable economy philanthropies and other donors.


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