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Bixi rides on as Bike Share Toronto

Posted by Chris Bateman / March 31, 2014

toronto bike shareForget Bixi - it's Bike Share Toronto now. Three months after being placed under the control of the Toronto Parking Authority, the city is finally lifting the lid off the new-look bike share system.

The name, logo, and prices will change, but for the immediate future Bike Share Toronto is going to look and behave a lot like Bixi.

According to NOW, which obtained a copy of the press release a day in advance, prices will rise for short-term rentals but fall for subscriptions. A one-day pass will now cost $7 and a three-day pass $15. Monthly memberships will be cut in half to $18. A year of access will cost $90.

The city bought the bike share system when its original operator, Montreal-based Public Bike Share Company, ran into financial trouble. The money was created by cancelling a fleet high-tech toilets.

In December, Cllr. Denzil Minnan-Wong said the city would be seeking a major sponsor to help cover the cost of running the bikes, bike stations, and other infrastructure. Bixi was sponsored in part by Telus and Desjardins.

When Bixi became city property there 4,000 active members. Since 2010, cyclists have made more than 1.8 million trips.

A lack of bike stations outside the downtown core was often cited as a reason why Bixi failed to become a viable transportation system. The new website tantalizingly includes a map that includes "planned" stations, though none are listed at this time.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Discussion

32 Comments

canuckone / March 31, 2014 at 08:27 am
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AutoShare (Enterprise Car Rentals) and ZipCar (Avis) are privately owned. The car sharing industry is a great idea and it works.
Why are companies like BIXI taken over by the taxpayer. If the bike sharing model is not profitable... so be it. That's not the problem of the rest of us.
cyclofan / March 31, 2014 at 08:42 am
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I love biking, and for most of my working life have commuted by bike, but I would not ride Bixi because they don't supply helmets. We have too few bike lanes that are truly safe to ride without one. The bikes look clunky and to me that is another safety issue. A bike should be manouverable enough to get out of a 'situation' quickly. Also, the regions that the service covers is too small. Also, sharing a bike seat with who-knows-who is kind of yucky.
Ben replying to a comment from canuckone / March 31, 2014 at 08:49 am
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Not everything is about immediate profits. Other cities have shown that bikesharing programs can be profitable and successful long term. But more importantly they have the potential to increase ridership in the city; something which might lead to the development of the realistic, safe, and useful cycling infrastructure we desperately need.
Spike / March 31, 2014 at 09:09 am
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They should also provide credits (free time?) to users taking a bike from a full station and returning them to empty ones. Surely some free user incentives would be less costly than having to run that truck and trailer moving bikes all the time?...
iSkyscraper / March 31, 2014 at 09:09 am
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These things are pretty much never profitable on user revenues alone -- but they provide an alternate mode of transportation, are great for commuting, and make the city a better place. Good cities have them and that's why they are worth public subsidy.

Oh, I'm sorry, were we talking about subways or bikeshare?

Because it's the same argument. All public transit is good transit, and that should include bikeshare.

Which is fast becoming the experience of most cities that have tried bikeshare. They love it, the thing works, but especially at this infant stage of bike infrastructure they are simply not profitable without significant subsidy. Even Citibike in New York is now in financial trouble. There too there is demand to expand but no money to do so, and the costs of doing business are too great. The terrible software that Bixi poisoned all its systems with has not helped.

So this is a step in the right direction. Run Bike Share Toronto as a commuter-oriented public agency, expand it, and make Toronto a better city.


PS - carsharing is publicly subsidized even though the companies are private, through the massive investment in the roads that make them free to use.


canuckone replying to a comment from Ben / March 31, 2014 at 09:17 am
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Having owned and operated businesses - I totally understand your comment about immediate profits but at some point there needs to be profits for a business to float. Which cities have successful bike sharing programs and what is Toronto not doing that they are?
Al / March 31, 2014 at 09:25 am
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If the city is taking over, they have an obligation to make sure there are stations throughout the city, not just the downtown core.
Jakob / March 31, 2014 at 09:28 am
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Maybe this will be the incentive the City needs to make Toronto actually bike-friendly. Until that happens, of course bike-sharing won't work in Toronto like it does in other, more bike-friendly, cities.
Peanut Gallery replying to a comment from canuckone / March 31, 2014 at 09:29 am
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Canuckone, we don't have private subways or streetcars either. Bikeshare is part of transportation network. It's infrastructure.

In London UK, which uses the same bikes and docking stations, their bikeshare is actually part of the same organization that oversees theur tube and bus network.
steve replying to a comment from canuckone / March 31, 2014 at 09:39 am
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City streets are also part of the public infrastructure, they are 100% subsidized by the citizens of Toronto. Should we make them profitable too?
Beachy / March 31, 2014 at 09:54 am
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I agree to succeed there need to be more bikes outside the core. For instance there aren't any in the Beaches area - and there's a pretty direct line from downtown to the beach that's totally all about bikes. And it would probably cut down on some of the crazy parking congestion in the area in the summer. I'd say the same would apply for the parks and such on the west side by the Humber River.
Tammy replying to a comment from steve / March 31, 2014 at 10:16 am
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Why are you answering a question with a question? And you expect an answer? Conversation done.
Mark replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 31, 2014 at 10:21 am
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You are officially a fuctional retard if you think roads are 'subsidized'. Yeah they are 'subsidized' by our gas taxes, and various other fees and taxes that pay for the roads in full. Car drivers are the only people who pay in full the cost of their commute (aside from walkers).
Jeff replying to a comment from steve / March 31, 2014 at 10:22 am
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Its either set up a profitable business model/plan for Bike Share or its coming out of our taxes. Just because we've sank money into non-profitable 100% subsidized projects in the past, the question should always be asked if there is a way to make it profitable.

Dr. Kukko / March 31, 2014 at 10:37 am
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Want to see a video of Fooord riding one of these bikes...probably see his crack showing.
Simon replying to a comment from canuckone / March 31, 2014 at 10:40 am
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Bixi bikes (or similar) can be found in Montreal, London, Melbourne, Boston, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Santiago (Chile), Paris, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Moscow, Miami....I could go on, or you could just type in "Bike Sharing System" on Wikipedia and realize that this is a business format that's been proven around the world. Many of these are successfully run by governments which operate at a profit.

Why does it fail in Toronto? Many reasons such as: stations not adequately spread out across the city, insufficient access to bikes during peak times, and a city structure that isn't safe enough for bikes.
Josh / March 31, 2014 at 11:00 am
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Mark, you're a little misinformed about where you think the money comes from to pay for roads.

Money for roads comes from property taxes, which everyone pays whether you own or rent a home (since landlords include the cost of property tax into a tennent's rent), so yes, road repair and maintenance is subsidized by everyone in the city, regardless of whether they drive or not.
Khanh / March 31, 2014 at 11:01 am
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Bike share is a great public transportation system and needs more support from the city to grow and become profitable. The only people who are opposed to it are the old dinosaurs living in this city.
Astin replying to a comment from cyclofan / March 31, 2014 at 11:06 am
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Sharing a bike seat is kind of yucky, but sharing a helmet isn't? You might have things a bit mixed up there. Unless you ride bare-assed and wear head-pants.
Marc replying to a comment from Mark / March 31, 2014 at 11:10 am
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No, they are also paid for by property taxes - which pretty much everyone (even bike-riding hippy renters) pays.

But so nice of you lash out with insults first.
Al replying to a comment from Mark / March 31, 2014 at 11:50 am
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Municipalities only get a tiny percentage of gas taxes, and it goes to general revenue. There was a dedicated city tax for vehicle owners, but Rob Ford got rid of it. Roads in the city are paid for almost entirely by property taxes.
JEff replying to a comment from Khanh / March 31, 2014 at 02:49 pm
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WRONG alot of us young hardcore riders don't support it either.

Nothing like riding behind someone that hardly knows how to ride a bike or the rules of rode on some of the busiest city streets in Canada. Just out of a joy ride with no helmet on along queen street cutting of cyclist and cars. Can bixi make people take at least an online test or at a pick up kiosk on the rules of the road before letting these yahoos swerve all over the streets
Tara / March 31, 2014 at 08:02 pm
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Don't forget the other failed reason: the $500 credit card deposit.
Herne / March 31, 2014 at 08:55 pm
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Disgusted that they sold out the oversight to an American company. Our tax money should go toward supporting CANADIAN jobs. Surely there was a company in Canada that could've done the job. What a farce.
tg@gmail.com replying to a comment from Khanh / March 31, 2014 at 09:15 pm
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Put your money where your mouth is and pay higher taxes if you want to support BIXI
TorontoCyclist / April 1, 2014 at 08:15 am
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Toronto cyclists do not deserve Bixi, or more dedicated bike lanes, or any attention at all until they can prove that collectively, they can ride safely and follow the rules. I've been to cities in Europe, where the cyclists follow the rules, and bike down roads shared side by side with cars and other vehicles. Everyone was courteous, safe, and law abiding. Yes they may have a better infrastructure for bicycles, but collectively, they have a better cycling culture of following basic road rules (ie, stopping at every stop sign and red light)

I have seen countless of times, Toronto cyclists, EVEN while on bike lanes, totally disregard stopsigns and traffic lights, making them a liability to themselves and others.

Mike replying to a comment from JEff / April 1, 2014 at 10:38 am
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I'm going to keep calling it Bixi, just like it's always going to be the Skydome.
Steve replying to a comment from Mark / April 1, 2014 at 12:06 pm
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If you had to pay the full cost of driving, you wouldn't own a computer-- the vehicle that allows you to spew bullshit on the internet.

By the way, if you live in the 905, your property taxes haven't paid for the DVP. Parasite.
Wilma / June 4, 2014 at 08:20 am
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Unfriendly for tourists ( and probably paid by them too). I recently was in toronto and rented two bikes to go toToronto island with friends. On the ticket it said i had acces to a bike for 24 hrs. The fact that you need to dock your bike every 30 minutes was not at all clearly indicated. It was not written on the receipt nor on the back of the paper with the code. Our trip was wonderful but we got slapped with a fine.really?!
I dont know anyone that would need or use a bike for just 30 minutes. Its took us 10 minutes just to walk to a station and find one?! This is riduculous.
If these rules were clear to me we would have have probably rented anyway, and gladly paid the money we owe, only now i am pissed. The information about the 30 min. should be at least written on the receipt, or back of the code number but its not. Because of this experience i will avoid all these bikes in the future. 😔 dutch tourist pissed off
ThatsSad / June 4, 2014 at 09:31 am
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Oh yeah. Typical. Not only does City Council go against the will of the people and buy a failing business, but they don't even bother to come up with a business model that would make it easy and useful to potential riders.

Well, somewhere down the road when it doesn't work out, you can just make it a partner (not a 3rd party, because that's a no-no) of Toronto Community Housing. You can leach from their maintenance funds some more, like Councillor Augimeri and Councillor Ana Baileo are already used to doing, while trying to save yet another bad idea.

Why will this idea fail? Bike lanes will never be all over the city. The needs of each area of the city are different (downtowners love their bikes), and believe me, these folks (the north, the west and east Toronto), love their cars. You try and put bike lanes on roads dominated by motor vehicle users, creating more gridlock, and I guarantee Councillors will get their walking papers and they know it. No bike lanes means less bike safety.

Councillors can now say, look at this new thing we did for Toronto, as a way to buy votes, but at the end of the day it's our tax dollars being wasted on something we really didn't need in the first place.

I wouldn't wear shorts to ride one of these things. Wonder if anyone cleans them? Pretty soon we'll see "Marketplace" swabbing down the seats and handlebars. Yuk.
T.Evers / June 16, 2014 at 08:40 pm
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Has anyone seen this add on bikeseat http://usa.streetsblog.org/2014/05/30/finally-a-kids-seat-for-bike-share/ that makes it so that parents with children can use the system; Awesome!!
CeeCee / July 6, 2014 at 10:33 am
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Did anyone have trouble docking their bike on June 23 in the evening in the sky dome area?

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