Yesterday was the first day of New York's new 6000 bike-strong bikesharing system, Citi Bike. Toronto was early into the bikesharing game, first with CBN's BikeShare and later with BIXI Toronto. Now as New York has come strong out of the gate, and as Chicago comes strong soon after with a 4000 bike Divvy Bike system, Toronto is stuck at about 1000 bikes while councillors dither on whether they should put any money at all into this very affordable (far more affordable than our subsidized roads and subways) public transportation system.
In July staff will report back to the Executive Committee on the Request for Interest for any private operators/buyers of BIXI Toronto. From my source, there has been some interest from the private sector, but so far only for companies that are interested in running BIXI Toronto, not owning it outright.
While the Executive Committee is leaning to find a private sector buyer they can dump the system on (and Ford's preference is for closing it down altogether), TTC Chair Councillor Karen Stintz passed a couple motions at last Friday's TTC Comission meeting for studying the feasibility of BIXI Toronto being absorbed into the TTC (the official minutes aren't out yet).
- That TTC staff be requested to prepare a report by the July 2013 TTC Board meeting on the feasibility and expected costs of integrating BIXI Toronto into the TTC: and
- Forward this decision to the City of Toronto Executive Committee, with a copy to the Deputy City Manager, Cluster B, with a request that any decision on the BIXI matter be deferred until the subject TTC report is referred by the TTC Board to the Executive Committee for consideration.
While the ownership questions are being debated in the political forum, there is developer Section 37 funds for 3 stations along King Street, as well as funding tied to the Pan-am Games for 50 stations that is sitting in limbo. One can only hope that Toronto's striving to become "world-class" will shame politicians into supporting BIXI Toronto properly. Doug Ford, you like Chicago so much? Why not emulate their roll out of bikesharing and hundreds of miles of protected bike lanes?