After a long debate at city council (see a photo of councillors looking at the blue Bixi bike), Bixi public bikes are getting so close to being a reality that I can almost feel myself riding around on these elegant, cruising, commuter machines. The final vote at Council was 33-8 as councillors approved the plan provide a loan guarantee of $4.8 million to Bixi so that they can borrow money and roll out 1000 bikes at 80 stations, spaced 300 metres apart across the core. It's anticipated to be popular enough that the bikes will need to be expanded quickly.
Under the deal, Bixi will need to raise $600,000 in sponsorships and 1000 annual, paying memberships by November 30, 2010. (I will be helping to promote membership in Bixi so we can achieve that target. I'd buy all 1000 memberships myself if I could, but I don't have $78,000 sitting around.)
If all goes to plan the target launch date is May 1, 2011. From the Star:
Membership fees haven’t been finalized but are expected to be $78 a year, $28 a month, or $5 a day, allowing members to take a bike out whenever they want, up to 30 minutes at a time, for no extra charge.
The program, called Bixi (bicycle-taxi), was popular when it rolled out in Montreal last year with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations. It’s expected to be a hit here as well. The Canadian-made bikes are described as rugged and lightweight, with a rack that can handle a briefcase or a case of beer.
“This really is an active extension of our public transit system,” said Yvonne Bambrick, of the Toronto Cyclists Union. “This is another option for people to choose, and I think they’re really going to enjoy it.”
According to Spacing's Twitter feed, these are the 8 councillors (out of 41 voting) who voted against Bixi: "DelGrande, Ford, Holyday, Minnan-Wong, Nunziata, Ootes, Thompson & Ainslie".
dances_with_traffic (not verified)
Some of the comments on these news sites are hilariousWed, 05/12/2010 - 10:21
Most people seem to be predicting mass casualties and chaos... lol motorists are really petrified of bicycles.
Another good percentage drink the media's "War on cars" koolaid and vehemently claim that these bicycles will never replace commuter's cars and that the city should spend every last penny on other options.
Then there are the people who claim you can't use a bicycle in this climate... if you can walk around in this climate you can ride a bicycle in it - what's the difference - the bicycle will get you there faster!
I like the blue colour, seems like a good choice. I hope the advertising campaign addresses some of these motorist's myths.
jamesmallon (not verified)
Toronto Bixi BSWed, 05/12/2010 - 12:19
Hmm… maybe we’d keep the money for Bixi in Toronto (some of which goes to Bixi head offices in Montreal) if Toronto ever generated and achieved an original idea. And, isn’t this just the Bixi deal that failed for this year? So we waited an extra year for the same deal? What happened? Astral Media didn’t promise enough kickbacks as part of their bike share scheme?
Bixi rebirthWed, 05/12/2010 - 13:19
@jamesmallon. Thanks for the negativity.
This deal is the current iteration of what was negotiated over the last year. It appeared as if it was dead back in February, but a lot of push from Toronto citizens persuaded politicians to actually come up with some deal. So, yes, in an ideal world... but we don't live there.
Astral Media is not involved in any way.
Revenue from the scheme will be first used in expanding the system to more neighbourhoods (from what I recall and understand). The profit will be what is left over after the system is expanded. Then that profit will be split. Bixi will be investing $4.8 million in the system so it makes sense to do it this way. Without any investment Toronto gets 50% of all profits! It's a pretty good deal.
One last thing. Who really cares if this was invented in Montreal or Toronto? We don't need to re-invent the wheel all the time just so we can feel good about ourselves. We can focus on some other idea.
David Juliusson (not verified)
What is wrong with the deal for Bixi?Wed, 05/12/2010 - 15:13
Maybe the money should all stay in Toronto. Sounds great. A couple Councillors asked that very question.
The problem is the council voted overwhelmingly that they would not spend any money on getting Bixi going in Toronto. They wanted a partnership. Montreal has made specific promises to raise money plus put up a certain amount of money. In case of accidents, they assume the liability. They replace stolen or ruined bicycles up to 6% of the fleet per year. Toronto can take over the project at any time after a certain date. In return, Montreal get 50% of the profits. In my opinion, they are entittled to it.
Toronto has guaranteed Bixi's $4.8 million loan. If the plan fails Toronto gets all assets. The City has made similar guarantees before. Councillor Grimes got one for $34 million for the Lions club to take over the Lakeshore Arena. There is always some risk involved, but the City financial manager reported they have never had a default.
Astral media is not involved in any way. They were given the right to first refusal for the advertising end of it. They refused. Instead, Bixi has committed to raising $600,000 and 1,000 subscriptions by November 30. The $600,000 is per year and will be raised again in 2011 and 2012.
Toronto was unwilling to take any of the financial risks. Montreal was. They are entittled to their profits. Montreal has a proven track. They have greatly expanded their program. They have proven it can work in a nothern climate. They have plans to expand the program to other cities. I wish them luck and hope that they make enormous amounts of money.
jamesmallon (not verified)
In other words...Wed, 05/12/2010 - 15:24
... this is Toronto. Don't expect too much. I'm not negative, I know the city where I live (and I know Montreal where I once lived - it has its flaws, but imagination is not one of them. Toronto, alas... ).
Toronto, in the words of the other commentators:
"council voted overwhelmingly that they would not spend any money on getting Bixi going in Toronto."
"Toronto was unwilling to take any of the financial risks. Montreal was. They are entittled to their profits. Montreal has a proven track. They have greatly expanded their program. They have proven it can work in a nothern climate."
"Who really cares if this was invented in Montreal or Toronto? We don't need to re-invent the wheel all the time just so we can feel good about ourselves. We can focus on some other idea."
That would be fine, if we did, if we would, but Montreal does, NY does, London does, Tokyo does, Toronto... we say we will someday.
Kevin Ruairi (not verified)
78 dollars???!!?Wed, 05/12/2010 - 17:26
Dublin, Ireland - exact same system costs 10 euro a year. About sixteen C **** dollars.
Kevin Ruairi (not verified)
Thats strange.Wed, 05/12/2010 - 17:27
Why did it put those asterisks in? I didnt type any swear word.
All sounds fineWed, 05/12/2010 - 17:45
Except I won't believe it until I see it. In any case, those bikes will never be as much fun as a CBN or BikeChain yellow bike. Let's hope they get it off the ground.
Adam Popper (not verified)
Bixi needs to be blitz and a Toronto makeoverMon, 05/17/2010 - 10:49
Studying bike sharing and being a Bixi subscriber in Montreal (but originally from Toronto) it strikes me that 1000 bikes at 80 stations is rather timid.
In Paris and other European cities they blitzed the city with 1000s or 10000s of bikes. This makes it actually convenient to make bike-sharing a part of one's life. It's strongly part of the utilitarian bike model, rather than the recreation one, so it will only work if it's convenient. The problem with starting small is that you get fewer users overall, which then gives the nay-sayers too much.
Overall it's a great idea, and the Bixi's are an excellent design. They will work in Toronto, hopefully the system will rapidly expand to 10000s within a few years.
What will we call them in Toronto? Bixi? Trixi? Tike? Montreal had a public competition to find the name and awarded the finalists. Toronto should tap into its creativity and do the same.
jamesmallon (not verified)
HaWed, 05/19/2010 - 13:33
"Montreal had a public competition to find the name and awarded the finalists. Toronto should tap into its creativity and do the same."
Oh, I do love a good laugh.