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66 Comments

politics

Duly Quoted: Rob Ford on Bixi

Mayor thinks we should give up on the bike-sharing program.

“It should be dissolved. It’s a failure.”

—Toronto mayor Rob Ford speaking to reporters today about the future of bike-sharing program Bixi, which is facing an operating shortfall. Bixi opened in Toronto with some help from the municipal government, which guaranteed the company’s loan. On advice from staff, city council may soon look at renegotiating the terms of that loan in light of Bixi’s financial woes. As a result, several councillors are floating ideas for completely overhauling how Bixi would work: Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale) wants to work with developers to create incentives for installing new bike stations, and TTC chair Karen Stintz (Ward 16, Eglinton-Lawrence) wants to investigate making Bixi part of the TTC.

Comments

  • http://iheartgreatdesign.com/ ♥ Donna Vitan

    It’s a bummer to hear that Bixi isn’t doing well financially but I would really like it if they can continue offering a bike-sharing system. Clearly, car-sharing programs are booming and this should do the same, perhaps it needs more support and more stations!

    • Martin

      You can’t compare bike sharing to auto sharing. The upfront cost, yearly maintenance & insurance are the factors that help auto sharing work. A bicycle is within everyone’s budget so I fail to see how this will draw in enough users to allow the business to stay afloat.

      • http://twitter.com/KitchenerBikes Branden Wesseling

        Here, it’s really important to remember that BIXI is merely in financial trouble, whereas the system as a piece of infrastructure is doing its job very well. In this context, the “trouble” is actually a problem of framing bikeshare infrastructure as a money-generating business rather than a useful public utility. The good news is, as you’ve pointed out above, bikeshare is also relatively cheap infrastructure to produce, maintain, and expand, if the political will to manage it exists.

        Bikesharing has a demonstrated history of providing important short-trip modal choice to the transportation mix, which helps to reinforce other non-SOV trip planning. We need to be mindful not to conflate the way BIXI Toronto was originally conceived and financed with bikesharing as a thing.

  • Don

    The only reason Bixi is not profitable in Toronto is because it was set up to fail from the beginning. Why does it not go further east than Parliament, further north than Bloor, or further west than Bathurst?

    I live in the east end, and would have joined if it was not concentrated in such a small area. I’m sure many others would have also.

    Maybe someone should tell Mayor Ford that his family business would not be as profitable if it did not expand to Chicago. Something tells me he is not intelligent enough to understand that though.

    • tyrannosaurus_rek

      Because it takes money to install those docking stations and fill them with bikes, that’s why. I’m sure if they had two nickels to rub together they’d try expanding their service area.

      • Don

        In that case, they should have installed more bike stations with less bikes across a wider geographical area. That way they would have more revenue due to larger customer base.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

      Exactly here. I lived downtown when the stations were originally being built.

      I now live in the west end and drive everywhere. Had BIXI chosen to not limit themselves originally, I’m sure they’d have a much larger customer base. I, personally, would have no issue biking from Etobicoke into downtown if the services were available.

      Was the TTC even approached by BIXI about installing systems at the subway stations, such as Islington and Kipling?

      If not, one wonders why…

      • Martin

        Why don’t you purchase a bicycle so you can ride everywhere? If you’re driving everywhere so you must have the finances to purchase your own bicycle.

        Your logic makes no sense to me.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/MapDark-Dark/100002553650170 MapDark Dark

          The benefits of bike share is that your bike doesn’t become a problem once you CAN’T ride it back home.

    • torontothegreat

      RIIIIIGHHHHTTTT.

      You “might” have a point if Bixi wasn’t failing in many other places.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/MapDark-Dark/100002553650170 MapDark Dark

      That’s what I’ve been saying since the beginning The way that stations are distributed throughout the city core doesn’t make any sense!

  • http://twitter.com/tvputten Tim van Putten

    The BIXI system is designed to break even financially at 3000 bikes in something like twice the area it is now. Right now there are only 1000 bikes. If you only build a third of a house, does that make it a failure?

    • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

      Yes, yes it does.

      If BIXI were designed to break even at 3000 bikes, why was that not taken into account in the planning stage?

      “Hey, we need 3000 bikes to become profitable, but we’re only going to build 1000, because we here at BIXI do not understand basic math and that 1+1=window.”

      If they knew the number needed to become black, that’s what should’ve been originally purchased and built.

      • dsmithhfx

        It was a tough sell in a council comprised largely of penny-watching nitwits, with a braying jackass (RF) to watch over them all. In every other municipality bike-sharing is subsidized, often by multiple levels of government. Of course, not here.

        • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

          I agree, council generally favors cars and snubs its nose at transit and cycling.

          However, BIXI knew that going in; they should’ve either made their case that they need x amount of bikes to be profitable, not go forward with the plan if they didn’t get the amount of funding they needed, or alter their plan to be profitable sooner and expand later.

          All blame here falls on BIXI. Sadly, I wish it actually were council’s fault for BIXI’s failure.

          • dsmithhfx

            There’s plenty of blame to go around.

        • Martin

          Why should bike sharing be subsidized? As I posted above bicycles are within everyone’s budget, so if you want to ride, go buy a bike and get out there. There is only so much money in the pot why give it to a business that is failing? I’d rather see our cycling budget spent on expanding infrastructure than on bixi. The company was set up as non-profit not unprofitable.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            Tourists don’t buy bikes when they come to visit. Someone who’d use a bike only once or twice a month probably isn’t going to buy one. It isn’t in the budget of a lot of working poor ($6 in bus fare a day may add up to more than the cost of a bike, but they probably don’t have that bike money up front).

            But I don’t think it should be subsidized either.

          • Martin

            I agree that tourists don’t buy bikes, so if its geared to tourists then it shouldn’t expand beyond downtown.

            I’ve noticed the working poor riding real bicycles, not bixi bikes.

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            It isn’t gear to tourists, it’s geared to anyone who might, for any reason, want to ride a bike.

          • Martin

            I agree it’s not geared to tourists, but to anyone who might need a bike, but I come back to buy your own bike and forget about bike sharing as torontothegreat points out it’s the middle class that use it. So we don’t need to subsidize it. If it works on its own fine.

          • torontothegreat

            Ummm… You have to put a 250 dollar deposit to “casually” ride a bixi bike. Over 2x what you could buy a bike for.

          • dsmithhfx

            You pay with a credit card. If you abandon, steal or wreck the bike, you are out $250. If you buy a bike and abandon or wreck it, you are out whatever you paid for it. If you steal it, you are a bike thief. If you don’t buy, wreck, abandon or steal a bike, you are a pedestrian, or a person watching the street from your window, or watching tv and eating a sandwich.

          • torontothegreat

            Tell me more about the service you’ve obviously never used or the FAQ you’ve obviously never read…

            You are OUT 250 buck JUST for signing one out as a casual user, for 10 days. That’s a HUGE barrier of entry for most people.

          • dsmithhfx

            Enjoy your sandwich!

          • torontothegreat

            You’ll have to come from under your bridge for me to properly understand you fool.

          • dsmithhfx

            Now you are mocking the homeless!

          • tyrannosaurus_rek

            You pay – temporarily – with a credit card. Which plenty of working poor have (which may be contributing to what keeps them poor).

            But the point seems to be lost on certain people: Bixi isn’t for one narrow slice of the demographic pie. Pretty much anyone but the homeless and children can use it.

          • torontothegreat

            For the working poor, not having access to 250 dollars for 10 days (hardly temporary) to simply rent a bike for a few hours is as nonsensical as your hyperbole and ignorance to being “poor”

      • TinaFea

        “the number needed to become black”?

        yo, dat’s racist

    • Don

      Yes, it definitely makes it a failure – but it was destined to fail from the beginning. What moron decided it shouldn’t go as far west as High Park (yes, it should go further than that) or as far east as Pape (and yes, it should go further east)?

    • wimbrooklyn

      Yes it does, and it makes you a failure for planning so poorly.

  • Lumpsinmygravy9

    More Bixis!!! More locations!

  • Dinah Might

    The Jarvis bike lane actually worked and we got rid of it. So if Bixi is failing, we should keep it!

  • jaaaaaaaaat

    should we be measuring bixi on its finances? or on its capacity to change the mindsets of commuters and city users with an alternate transportation method.

    Transformation/change is painful, and perhaps even financially difficult. But eventually we will live in a city that is healthy. Until then, we have overweight/car-dependent mayors measuring every success based on dollar value.

    • wimbrooklyn

      Not as painful as the transformation of taxpayer’s money into the pockets of shills and snake oil salesperson (Bixi).

      • dsmithhfx

        Shouldn’t you be chasing down $3.1-billion that just went missing to some “anti-terrorism” snake-oil salesman ? Seems like it would be a more profitable use of your precious time than some penny-ante municipal bike program.

  • wimbrooklyn

    “with some help…” hee hee, oh that is rich! It is and will be a perpetual greedy calf at the taxpayer teat.

    • spicygarage

      Almost no public transit system is self-sustaining, and BIXI is certainly public transit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

        But is it? Last I heard, something requiring a membership generally isn’t considered “public”.

        • dsmithhfx

          A membership isn’t required, according to their web site. $5 buys you 24-hour access to as many 30-minute rides as you can hold. That’s a better deal than the TTC.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

            Really? That must be a new change.

            When I was looking at Bixi back when, there was an annual fee required on top of whatever daily fees you accrued.

          • dsmithhfx

            Do try and keep up, James.

          • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

            Nay, I’ve no need. I care about the bottom line of them, not their policy change which partially contributed to their inability to sustain themselves.

          • Mark

            That was never the case, James. The BIXI system here and elsewhere has always had an option to buy a monthly or yearly membership, as well as the option to just walk up and pay $5 for a 24-hour access period. BIXI Toronto publicly pushed the membership option ahead of launching in order to boost popularity and use, which in turn would help the service survive. It didn’t work all that well, in large part because of the limited service area.

          • torontothegreat

            + a 250 dollar deposit + a credit card. Might want to mention that…

          • dsmithhfx

            And you’d the first one screaming if they didn’t ask for a deposit. Am I right?

          • torontothegreat

            Nope. I mean I can see doing a pre-auth for the amount, but actually charging a CC 250 bucks for 10 days is ridiculous.

        • spicygarage

          Membership, Metropass. Tomato, tomahto. “Public” transport doesn’t mean “free” transport.

  • http://www.facebook.com/raeanngammon Rae- Ann

    He should be dissolved, he is a failure

    • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

      Oh if only it were that easy. :(

      But I think it’s safe to say that he’s a cockroach; he’s survived everything thrown at him so far. I think we’re stuck for a while.

      • jawnytee

        A cockroach?!?! LOL..I agree that his public persona is questionable..he could use an image consultant

        However we cant blame Ford for the fact that there are no bike routes/paths/access to dtown, access to the island etc….commuting by bicycle should be a joy..not a terrifying experience. Bikes and cars dont mix.
        We could turn Queen street from the Beaches to the west end into streetcars and bikes only…yonge would work the other way with only busses and bikes allowed.
        would you support him if he came up with reasonable solutions to traffic congestion/bike issues?

        • http://www.facebook.com/jpaterson1 James D Paterson

          I’d support him if he could come up with a reasonable transit plan. Turning Queen into streetcar and bike only is far from a reasonable idea.

          No vehicle traffic all the way from the Beaches to Roncesvalles where Queens way starts? That would mean TTC could support that. They cannot. It’s not a feasible idea.

          I agree though, we can’t blame Ford for the issues that existed prior to his election. We can blame him for being supremely incompetent and seemingly unable to go a week without an embarrassing incident, though.

  • http://twitter.com/Neutral_Planet Neutral President

    I have no strong feelings one way or the other, but Bixi becoming part of the TTC would be a smart move, adding tremendous “last mile” capability to underserved areas, as well as giving people more transit choices. Free, unlimited bike usage for Metropass users would be an excellent value-add for TTC riders, at seemingly negligible cost to the TTC.

    • Don

      I agree with what you said, up until “free.” It’s time for people to stop expecting services for free, and start paying for what they use.

      • dsmithhfx

        People pay taxes, they expect services. Why should the taxes I pay go to “subsidize” road construction and maintenance, when I don’t own a car (or for that matter, a bicycle) ? Because it’s for the common good, that’s why. Promoting bicycles benefits everyone, including you. It’s one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce traffic congestion (particularly in the downtown core), and better health outcomes through regular exercise means less money wasted keeping car potatoes alive. See, math isn’t hard, you just gotta use your brain!

        • Martin

          I want the taxes I pay to be used effectively. Bixi has 4630 subscribers out of Toronto’s population of 2615000 people. So lets subsidize a service that only benefits 0.18% of the city? Put the money to expending the cycling infrastructure instead, much better bang for our cycling tax dollars.

          • dsmithhfx

            Tell it to Rob Ford.

          • torontothegreat

            Subscribers ≠ users.

            So, I don’t want to subsidize something of yours, cause it doesn’t benefit ME, is your stance? Shove it.

          • Martin

            Because there is a finite amount of resources. I see no reason to support a money losing business that only helps a small % of the population. The middle class that are too lazy to buy their own bikes.

          • torontothegreat

            “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the the universe.”

      • Comment_Book_Guy

        calm down, spaz – he said “free … for Metropass users” so it’s not really “free”. A value-added option, not a giveaway.

  • torontothegreat

    The city should definitely buy Bixi. If you look at the 3.9 million dollar loan that isn’t going to get paid, the city is buying this service at 4k a bike (including the stations). It’s a good business decision and a public service. Rob Ford once again proves he knows nothing about either.

  • worstmayorever

    “The mayor should be dissolved. He’s a failure.”

  • worstmayorever

    Bixi should be expanded and subsidized, and the downtown core should be off limits to cars, except for limited roads for shipping, at high tolls. Is there really any doubt that this is what will happen 50 years from now? Why not now? Because Ford and his ilk are living 50 years ago?

  • tyrannosaurus_rek

    Meanwhile, in New York:

    “America’s largest bicycle sharing scheme will begin this month in New York City, with 6000 bikes available to rent from docking stations in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn.
    The scheme, dubbed Citi Bike after its multi-million-dollar sponsorship from Citibank, will invite commuters and tourists to take advantage of New York’s 700 miles of cycle lanes.
    The May launch will see bikes placed in 330 docking stations across the city, spanning from 59th Street in Manhattan down to the Bedford-Stuyvesant area of Brooklyn.”