TTC Pedals towards a Merge with Bixi Toronto
TTC’s Potential Merger with Bixi – a Questionable Move
By Viviane Fairbank, Staff Writer
Bixi Toronto’s financial troubles may soon be over as the TTC explores the possibility of a merge between the two public transit systems.
Karen Stintz, chair of the TTC, told CP24 that she intends to “move a motion to request a review of whether the TTC could actually take over the BIXI portfolio” during a recent council meeting.
Stintz reasons that an added component of Bixi bikes to the TTC system would allow for new, mutually beneficial public transit opportunities in Toronto. She suggested the placement of new bike share stations close to TTC stations, to help fill in what Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto called “the gaps for trips that are too short to take transit or too far to walk – that two-kilometre sweet spot,” the Toronto Star reports.
This announcement follows a staff report that was presented to the executive committee last month, suggesting that the city consider options for restructuring its relationship with the struggling company.
Bixi Toronto, a child company for the Public Bike System Company based in Montreal, has been in financial trouble for the past few months.
Bixi could hamper membership and make it “very challenging” to attract the corporate sponsorships that the program relies on.
Bixi’s spokesperson, Michel Philibert, told the Toronto Star that “the system is too small for Toronto,” and that it has been set up for failure. The company, which currently consists of 1,000 bikes at 80 stations, would need at least three times that number to be financially viable, says Philibert.
Starting out in 2011 with a $4.8 million loan guarantee from the city, the company has only been able to repay about one quarter so far. This is on top of a $108 million bailout package, including a $71 million loan guarantee and $37-million loan, from Montreal during its start-up year.
While Kolb believes that Bixi and the TTC are a natural fit, some city councillors are not so enthusiastic about the solution. Even Mayor Rob Ford said Bixi Toronto “should be dissolved. It’s a failure.”
Many are intimidated by the financial loss that Bixi represents. According to the Toronto Star, some Toronto staff warn that uncertainty about Bixi could hamper membership and make it “very challenging” to attract the corporate sponsorships that the program relies on.