A screenshot of Bixi Toronto’s newly updated website, as it appeared earlier this morning.
Bixi Toronto is scheduled to launch exactly one week from now, on May 3. Until Monday night we still had doubts, because there were no new details on how, specifically, the rollout was going to work. But the Bixi Toronto website was just updated with a trove of information, and now we know two important things that we didn’t before.
New Thing #1: Station Locations
A Google map on the Bixi Toronto site shows the exact anticipated locations for the system’s docking stations (there are supposed to be 80, but we haven’t counted). One surprise is that a few of them fall outside the boundaries of the established coverage area. For example, there’s one in Kensington Market, even though Spadina Avenue is supposed to be the system’s western limit. The Market is a major downtown cycling destination, so having a station there would increase the utility of Bixi Toronto as a whole.
Less great is the fact that there doesn’t seem to be a single planned station location in all of Chinatown—though to be fair, you’d probably have to move a dozen crates of mangosteens out of the way to fit any new street furniture there, or otherwise eliminate on-street parking.
CityPlace is also apparently getting shafted for stations. It falls at the western extreme of Bixi Toronto’s boundaries, but even so, to exclude so many condos from easy access to the bikes seems like a missed opportunity, especially considering the fact that the neighborhood isn’t well served by existing transit, with just a couple of streetcar lines for around 12,000 residents.
The plan, when last we checked, was for Bixi’s coverage area to expand over time. If that happens, some of the system’s initial deficiencies may disappear.
Stations are already being installed in locations around downtown. Photo by Alexander Wu.
New Thing #2: Telus and Desjardins are Bankrolling Things
Most of Bixi Toronto is being paid for with a $4.8 million loan, taken out by the Public Bike System Company (the company that provides Bixi and will operate the system in Toronto) and guaranteed by the City.
But as part of the contract between the City and PBSC, the system also needs $600,000 per year in sponsorships for its first three years. Last summer, ING Direct Canada was announced as Bixi Toronto’s lead sponsor. For this they enjoyed several months of deserved ballyhoos.
EXCEPT! In a press release dated March 16—the day after the Bixi Toronto release date was announced, bringing with it a fresh round of publicity—ING announced that it had backed out of the deal late last year, and was no longer involved in Bixi at all. “Unfortunately during contract negotiations last November,” says the release, “we were unable to reach an agreement with BIXI on the terms of the sponsorship, which changed over time.”
The new main sponsors are Telus and Desjardins. Get used to their logos, because you’ll be seeing them all over downtown, emblazoned on Bixi gear.