Citi Bike: What does the “Trip Open/Completed” status mean?

September 1, 2014 - New York / Travel

Every so often when I log into my CitiBike account to check out my usage. Last month I came across a “Trip Completed” in my history.  
Citi Bike Trip Completed

I didn’t think much about the odd status because it didn’t sound like anything I should be concerned about or follow up on. Then today, I logged into my account and came across a “Trip Open” status for one of my trips from earlier in the day (By the way, the Citi Bike app needs to allow one to log into their account and to check trips on your phone), I’ve come across a couple odd statuses in my trip history).

 

Citibike Trip Open

In the above screenshot, you can see all my trips on September 1st. You can see that I picked up a bike at 3:10 PM, and then picked up another bike less than 3 minutes later at 3:13 PM. The problem? The system never recognized my returning the bike at 3:10 PM yet allowed me to pull another bike out 3 minutes later.

Citi Bike: What Does Trip Open Status Mean?

When I searched for a solution online, I didn’t find any real answers to my question. Not even on Citi Bike’s FAQs section. I did find a couple tweets from Citi Bike users experiencing the same “Trip Open” issue. The first tweet was the “Yellow Light Theory” when one returns a bike to the dock, the light turns yellow, never turns green, but the bike is locked into the dock. Trip Open Yellow Light Theory

Having rode on more than 100 trips as of this post, I’ve come across multiple yellow light/no green light situations when docking my bicycle but this was the first time I’ve had a “Trip Open” show up in my account history. I searched a little more and came across this cryptic response from Citi Bike’s Twitter account.

Open trip means your trip didn't close. 

What we learned in Citi Bike’s official response was that the word “open” is the opposite of the word “closed” and that you should call customer service. When I called customer service to inquire what “Open Trip” actually meant, the answers I received were all system-related issues. The system didn’t recognize that the bike was returned (even though it was and I was able to pull out another bike later in the day). The agent asked for my Citi Bike number, tracked the bike from that trip, saw that it was returned (at some point?), and manually changed the status from “Open” to “Completed” in the system.

Curious as I am, I wondered out loud into the phone what could have caused the system to respond with the “Open Trip” status– and the agent simply wasn’t able to answer. After a couple more questions, he reverted what was clearly an official statement: “Citibike is continually working to resolve our system issues.” If you have the “Open Trip” issue — call Citi Bike customer service at 1-855-BIKE-311

My Theory on the “Trip Open” Issue

After I hung up with the agent, I thought about how this could have happened. There’s a been several times when I’ve unlocked a Citi Bike only to return it within 10 seconds when I see there’s a problem with the bike (e.g. broken bell, flat tire, bad seat). A few of those times when I re-dock the bike immediately so I can grab a better one, another rider unlocks that same bike in a matter of seconds.

So not only does that user unlock a bike I just unlocked and then quickly relocked, I also take out a different bike all in the matter of 20 seconds or so. It’s only been twice that I have received a Open/Completed status, so this isn’t a pattern, but in those two cases, I found that I immediately locked/relocked a bike within two minutes of each other at the same station to select a better bike. Check out the start stations and times below.

Citi Bike start and stop issue

I do remember that when I selected another bike, a Citi Bike user unlocked the one I just put back. So basically, in a very short period of time:

  • I unlock bike A
  • I relock bike A immediately
  • Different user unlocks bike A
  • I unlock bike B

When those four factors come into play within 30 seconds of each other, that’s a lot of information for Citi Bike’s system to handle considering the assumption is when someone successfully unlocks a bike, they’ll have it for at least 5 minutes. And this is not even considering if there’s any system confusion between annual members vs. those with temporary codes.

› tags: bike share / bike sharing / bikes / Citi Bike / Completed Trip / Open Trip / Trip Completed /

Comments

  1. Gayatri says:

    I got the dreaded Trip Open status twice yesterday. The first time I after I docked it, I saw the green light. But given how paranoid I am, I immediately (5 mins later) checked to see if the trip was completed. And it was not. I called the customer care immediately who said they could see the bike at the station and so they closed the trip for me. About 5 hours later (10 pm) I took a bike and again docked it, AGAIN to see a green light and THEN the trip open status. So I called them again and they completed the trip for me. But I find it too much of a coincidence that both those bikes were unlocked , locked, and then unlocked agin with a matter of 30 seconds as you mentioned. So I think it is more that their software is really bad. Because if they can see the bike on the system means that all the locking/unlocking has been recorded correctly. But for some reason which I believe is a parallel system that keeps a tab of stations and bikes is not being updated. I really hope they correct it soon because this is too much of a hassle!

  2. Thanks for your post. About to renew after a year’s use (and loving the citibikes) I’m looking at my usage for the first time and found quite a few ‘Trip Completed’. Should I take from your post that I should worry/contact Citibike if I find any ‘Trip Open’s but not worry about ‘Trip Completed’ – it just didn’t register when I took the bike but it did when I returned so all good and no risk of being charged. Thanks in advance for any insight you can shed.

    • stuarte says:

      Hi Tass — yep, from what I understand, ‘trip completed’ is good. Citi Bike has located the bike. ‘Trip Open’ could mean that a bike hasn’t been returned/located. Contact Citi Bike for any ‘Open Trips’ in your usage logs.

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