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Toronto Bike Share

There's nothing on the website indicating why people should sign up now, instead of waiting for next May (especially given that they charge your credit card as soon as you register); I guess they're just relying on people really wanting this system to get off the ground. I emailed the Bixi people and they said that, if you're one of the first 1,000 people, you're considered a "founding member", you get a different coloured bixi key (yay!), and there would be unspecified benefits for such members that would be revealed in the future. I've gotta say, not a lot of incentive to try to get people to sign up early.

I figure that they're either confident that they'll get the 1,000 people by November, or just not that great at marketing.
I just took a look at the Bixi site and I'm very disappointed with the coverage area. It should, at the very least, stretch north to Dupont, east to Broadview and west to Dufferin. As it stands it's limited to areas around the downtown subway stations. This is an area that is very convenient to navigate by transit. I was really looking forward to Bixi since I frequently travel from Wellesley and Parliament to King and Strachan, but both ends of my trip are outside of the service area!

It's the east and west ends of downtown that are best suited for Bixi because of they are fairly close to the centre but too far from the subway.

The coverage area was originally proposed as Broadview to High Park (based on 3,000 bikes).

But City Council cut them back to 1,000 bikes for phase 1. They had to cut the area down to keep the stations close together.

They have indicated, assuming they get the required members and sponsors to start-up; that they expect a roll-out like Montreal (the coverage area doubled in the first year of operation due to popularity). Its also been enlarged again since.

I think if we can just get them launched and off-ground, you'll see the coverage area grow dramatically by the end of 2011.
I'm glad to hear that major expansion could occur relatively quickly. With that in mind my concern is that with such a limited area they may not sell enough memberships to get it off the ground to begin with.
This is just on the Montreal Gazette website.

Bixi will post an operating profit this year and Montreal taxpayers will not be on the hook for the service's $33-million debt, nor will they subsidize bike-sharing systems in other cities, the man in charge of Bixi said yesterday.

Roger Plamondon was reacting to news that the city's auditor general is investigating Bixi's finances, concerned that Bixi's debt will affect the city's bottom line.

A spokesperson for city auditor general Jacques Bergeron said he has requested information from the Public Bike System Co., the private company that runs Bixi, and will go over its books.

The PBSC is an offshoot of Stationnement de Montreal, the city parking authority, which in turn is an arm of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal.

Stationnement de Montreal lent the PBSC $33 million to launch Bixi.

Though Bixi bikes were road-tested by Montrealers after being designed here at the behest of city hall, Montreal has no written agreement with the PBSC spelling out details such as profit-sharing or the financing of international sales.

The PBSC has sold its system to several cities, most notably London, which last month launched a 6,600-bike system modelled on Bixi.

Since May, the city and the PBSC have been in talks to nail down Bixi's status and financing. Plamondon said several options are being

considered. "Is it leaving it as a not for profit? Is it something that should fall under more municipal control?"

Plamondon said the PBSC will post an operating profit in 2010, a year ahead of schedule. That's based on sales of 8,600 bikes to other cities and having 32,000 Montreal Bixi members by January. It currently has 28,000 but it expects to sell more over the next three months and via a Christmas promotion.

Plamondon said he's confident the auditor general will find the PBSC's business plan is "a very feasible one based on conservative hypothesis as to where we're going with Bixi internationally."

The plan says that "over the next five years we (will) generate enough cash flow to completely repay (our) debt," he added.

"The business plan makes it so that the system will not cost a penny to Montrealers. It's the expansion into other cities that permits us to fund" Montreal's Bixi.

But Bixi is causing cash flow problems at Stationnement de Montreal.

It remits money to the city annually, based on parking operations. For 2009, it owed $42.5 million, due by April 30, 2010, but because of its loan to the PBSC it could not pay that amount in full, said city spokesperson Bernard Larin.

A spokesperson for Stationnement de Montreal could not provide the amount outstanding or say when it will be repaid.

Larin said the outstanding amount will be paid at a later date, with interest.

"So no public money has been invested, because Stationnement de Montreal will reimburse the city," he said. "In the end, the city will make even more money because interest will be added to the amounts that are due by Stationnement Montreal."

As for the future of the PBSC, discussions are ongoing and "we will make a public announcement in the coming weeks," Larin said.

Stationnement de Montreal has been criticized in the past over its financial dealings with the city.

In 2000 and 2001, Montreal's auditor general chastised the company for shortchanging the city $3 million per year.

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The Bixi area is pretty much limited to only places I would recommend people _never_ attempt to bike unless they are very brave - it's covered well by public transportation and is mostly walkable. And most bike lanes in the city end before they get to the downtown core.

If they didn't want to cover a larger area, they should have started by picking a smaller area outside the downtown, perhaps the west side from University to Dufferin and from Front to Bloor.
Walkable areas are inherently bikable. Plenty of people have multiple destinations to go to once they step outside the subway station and plenty of people live downtown. Walkable areas well served by transit are where Bixi supposed to work because it's where the density and urban design is supposed to best accommodate cycling as well.
Not only that, but it serves that middle ground between walking and transit, whereby some places are really too short to warrant paying for the TTC (for those of us without a metropass) but take a bit longer to walk to than we'd like (either out of convenience or short on time, or whatever). For example, I hate taking the streetcar from Queens Quay/Spadina to King or Queen St. It's only a couple TTC stops which doesn't seem worth it, but it's also a 20 minute walk. Bixi would help fill the gap.
They were packing up when I got there but the city had some kind of display at Yonge & Bloor complete with bikes, bikestands and payment machine. I think I read a little while ago that they have enough people signed up to go ahead with the program.
Yeah, they got all the sign-ups they need to launch in the spring. I think AutoShare bought 100 memberships to put them over the mark.

It would be cool to see some kind of car-sharing/bike-sharing integration.
Because of the controversy caused by the Don Cherry introduction speech for Rob Ford, and as a bicycle theft hindrance, I propose the following:

For the Bixi Biskshare bicycles coming to Toronto, why not paint the bicycles a (Don) Cherry pink? Would definitely be a determent against theft.

Something to ask the Bixi members in Toronto.

BTW. What colour would the bicycles be at the current moment and can it be changed?
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Toronto Set to Launch Bike-Sharing Program

March 21, 2011

By Itir Sonuparlak

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A new bike-sharing program, called BIXI (short for “bicycle-taxi,”) will be installed in Toronto starting May 2011. Currently, the system has been operating in Montreal, Canada, since its inception in May 2009. Although the program is not expected to begin until later this spring, 1,200 users have already signed for annual memberships. Inspired by Vélib, a public bicycle rental system in Paris, the City of Toronto will install 1,000 bicycles in 80 different locations for public use. Although the locations of the stations are not yet determined, the system is meant to be an extension of the current public transportation system in Toronto. This is not the first time Toronto experimented with a bike-sharing program. The Community Bicycle Network’s former initiative, known as BikeShare, stopped operations in 2007 after a lack of funding.

To ensure the success of the new BIXI program, the City of Toronto committed to a $4.8 million loan for the Public Bike System Company (PBSC), the unit of Montreal’s parking authority that will see through the BIXI program. The financial commitment requires the City of Toronto to make the payments for the program, in case the PBSC fails to do so. The City of Toronto will also be required to cover the cost of damaged and stolen bicycles, and of maintaining bicycle stations. The profits from the program will be shared evenly between the City of Toronto and the PBSC. In order to rent bicycles through BIXI’s program, users are encouraged to subscribe to an annual membership, however, occasional users are also welcome and can take out bicycles using credit cards. Similar to bike-sharing programs around the world, BIXI’s annual members can rent bicycles for free for the first half-hour, with additional charges for extra time of usage.


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Are they ever going to release the locations for the bike rental points? It starts in a month and a'd think that they'd have to have at least decided where they'll be by now.
I heard early April for the locations. I'm excited for this but they REALLY need to quickly expand the borders East and West. A Bixi zone that went all the way from The Beaches to High Park would be amazing.
Bixi is an amazing system--but be prepared for the screams when people realize that the stations take up parking spaces.