Bixi’s initial service area. Screencap from the Bixi Toronto website.
After a long period of silence, Bixi Toronto announced today via Twitter that it will, in fact, be launching on May 3. Daniel Egan, manager of cycling infrastructure and programs for the City, says the public can expect to find out the exact future locations of the bike-share service’s eighty pick-up stations in April.
Egan continues: “There will be several announcements between now and then. Once the marketing campaign kicks into gear there’ll be a lot of information.”
Among the coming announcements will be further information on Bixi’s sponsorship situation. ING Direct Canada is putting up $450,000 per year for the program, but as part of Bixi’s deal with the City, the system needs $150,000 a year in sponsorships on top of that, for the next three years. Egan says the public will soon know more about where that remaining money is coming from.
The system rollout will consist of eighty stations and one thousand bikes, and will cover an initial service area between Jarvis Street and Spadina Avenue to the east and west, and Bloor Street and Queens Quay to the north and south. Bixi Toronto is provided and operated by the Public Bike System Company, a subsidiary of Montreal’s privately held parking authority.
Even with Bixi’s launch day in sight, there’s still work to be done.
The Public Bike System Company will be handling Bixi’s day-to-day operations, but City staff are responsible for much of the work involved in finding ways to expand and improve the system over time. The initial service area is relatively small, and so the next big job will be mustering the resources and political will to make it bigger.
Or as Egan puts it: “It’s not like we’re sitting back, smoking cigars, saying ‘Great, it’s happening.’ It’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes.”