Bixi is dead; Long live Bike Share Toronto
Toronto's Bixi bikeshare share system was taken over by the City of Toronto last fall after it struggled to service its debt. Of course Mayor Rob Ford wanted to close it down, but cooler head prevailed and came up with a clever deal, trading money promised for fancy public toilets to save the bikes. The management of the system has been turned over to Alta Bicycle Share, who also manage New York's system (which is not without its share of problems), and the tainted Bixi name is gone; it's now an imaginative sounding Bike Share Toronto with a not ready for prime time website.
They are making some interesting tweaks; the daily and three-day passes are going up in price a bit, but the monthly pass price is being cut to less than half, going from $41 down to $18. There is no word on whether the new team will address the fundamental problem with the Toronto network, its small size. But even with Rob Ford sidelined, Toronto still has an anti-bike attitude and Denzil Minnan-Wong as head of transportation, who says about anything that slows down cars and increases bike and pedestrian safety: "My job at city council is to reduce congestion and gridlock, not to add to it."
Of course, people are already complaining. "Why are companies like BIXI taken over by the taxpayer. If the bike sharing model is not profitable... so be it. That's not the problem of the rest of us." When this kind of comment was made in New York recently, "If the Citibikes were popular, they wouldn't be going broke", the Twitterverse noted that other forms of transportation get subsidies from government too. More from Jonathan Goldsbie at Now Magazine.