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Lyft buys Motivate, Citi Bike’s parent company

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The move signals Lyft’s interest in providing more mobility options for its users

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The rumors were true: Lyft announced that it has purchased Motivate, the bike share company that operates Citi Bike, among other systems in the U.S. While a purchase price was not disclosed, previous reports suggested that the company could have changed hands for $250 million or more.

Lyft Bike, as the new program will be called, will bring Motivate’s day-to-day operations and its contracts with U.S. cities (which, in addition to NYC, include Chicago’s Divvy bikes, Washington D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare, and Boston’s Blue Bikes) under Lyft’s ownership. Motivate’s “bike maintenance and servicing operations” are not part of that deal.

“Bringing together Lyft and Motivate will accelerate our collaboration with cities and deliver even better experiences to our passengers and riders,” Lyft co-founder John Zimmer said in a blog post announcing the acquisition.

What this means for Citi Bike remains to be seen, though a Lyft source says that neither the program’s name, nor its existing partnerships (such as its discounts for NYCHA members) will change.

Motivate assumed operations for the system in 2014, and in the years since, bike share in New York has grown steadily—Citi Bike is now a presence in three of the five boroughs, with upwards of 50,000 daily riders. Just last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city DOT announced that Motivate would add more bikes, including pedal-assist electric bikes, to NYC streets during the L train shutdown.

The move comes not long after Uber acquired Jump, a dockless bike share company based in San Francisco. Jump is one of 12 companies that responded to the NYC DOT’s request for expressions of interest for a dockless bike share pilot in the city, specifically in areas that are underserved by Citi Bike; while the city has yet to announce which companies will participate, Motivate was also among the bidders.

But, as our colleagues at Curbed.com explain, the sale “underscores a significant shift in urban transportation—and a big bet by the company—toward a more multimodal, mobility-as-a-service future, where riders have a host of options to get across town and eschew private vehicle ownership.”

“By integrating these mobility options, the ride-hailing giants can offer a more holistic suite of transit options within a single service and app, creating a mobility-as-a-service company that can accommodate everything from a short errands run to a ride to the airport.”