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Riders: Citi Bike Struggling To Balance Supply And Demand; App Unreliable

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New York City's bike-share program was love at first sight for many riders, but now some are having second thoughts.

Making the program work requires a balancing act, and some say the program is falling short, CBS 2's Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

Citi Bikers say the program is struggling to balance supply and demand.

"After 8 o'clock, can't find a bike at all," Bob Zurlnick said.

"There aren't any bikes over there," Jennifer Judge added, when asked what often happens when she tries to grab a ride home.

Another complaint: there aren't any open docks to park a bike after a ride.

On Thursday morning the station at 40th Street and Fifth Avenue had one open dock, but rider after rider after rider found it was out of order and wouldn't let them dock.

"I have to ride another three, four blocks because it doesn't look like there's any open here at all," Zurlnick said.

"I've ended up having to look around as long as 15 to 20 minutes before I can find anything," bike patron Todd Zarin added.

Citi Bike said it is responding by hiring an additional 35 workers to shuttle bikes around, "rebalancing" the system. The issues are most pronounced in Midtown. Docking stations near transit hubs empty out in the morning, while those near big office buildings fill up, Aiello reported.

"I have seen more efforts to reposition the bikes, seen more trucks out here, but still you do get this pretty often," Zarin said.

Citi Bikers said they need real-time information, where they can pick up a bike, where they can drop off a bike. Luckily, there's an app for that. Unfortunately, the app doesn't work very well.

A blogger recently posted that the app showed nine bikes available at a station near Times Square when in fact there were none.

"The app says I got four bikes, and I walk a block, there's no bikes. I'm in the middle of nowhere, so I wind up walking to work," Zurlnick said.

The Bloomberg administration acknowledged the issues and said they're being addressed.

Many riders said in spite of frustrations they like the program overall.

"I gave up for a little while but I'm back on it because it's just so great," Judge said.

So far, Citi Bike is surviving the rough roll-out.

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