A dispute between Hoboken and Jersey City is making the decision to operate separate bike-share systems in each city look even worse.
In late 2013, the two cities — along with neighboring Weehawken — announced plans for a combined bike-share system, called Hudson Bike Share. At first Hudson Bike Share was envisioned as a “smart lock” system that allows users to dock their bikes anywhere (unlike New York’s Citi Bike and most other bike-share systems, where users dock at stations with fixed locations).
Teaming up made a lot of sense, since the cities cover a relatively small geographic area no larger than the initial Citi Bike service zone. Unfortunately, things fell apart. As the Hudson Bike Share rollout dragged on, Weehawken withdrew completely. Hoboken went ahead with a smart lock system, while Jersey City opted for the same platform as Citi Bike, giving members access to New York City’s bike-share network as well.
The decision to run separate systems for each city was deeply flawed, according to TransitCenter’s Jon Orcutt. “The keys to high ridership bike-share are scale and density,” he said, “so obviously having two different systems in adjacent small cities, you’re automatically sacrificing on scale.”
As soon as Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer failed to agree on a shared system, they limited the usefulness of each bike-share network to their constituents.