For those readers who are not familiar with BIXI, it is a bicycle sharing system. Bixi mixes bicycling and taxis to offer environmentally conscious and fitness-friendly citizens the option to cycle instead of drive. Bixi was born in Montreal and began expanding across Canada and around the world.
A complete Bixi station houses bikes and operates with a pay station and bike locks. Bikers use Bixi keys, obtained through a long-term subscription, to access the bicycles. The stations are supposed to be powered by solar panels and can be reconfigured and moved in less than an hour. The rates are extremely reasonable. A subscriber usually enjoys free rides, as the first 45 minutes are included. From there, up to an hour and a half will be covered by $3. Pretty much this is a system that is environmentally and user-friendly with a splash of technological innovation. Sounds great right? Well, not so much to the TTC.
In May, the TTC chair, Karen Stintz, publicly declared the possibility of matching up with Toronto’s Bixi bike-sharing program. However, this idealistic announcement has met a resounding “no way” from other TTC staff. Two major reasons were given for TTC’s dismissal of the marriage. First, the TTC was too nervous about taking on Bixi’s $3.9 million debt. Second, TTC staff feel as though the Bixi program does not align itself with the corporate mission of the TTC. To say the least, Toronto bikers are giving the TTC more than just a raised eyebrow.
I must address the second statement first. How can the TTC say that transporting people safely, quickly and affordably is not part of their mandate? Does a non-motorized vehicle no longer count as Toronto transportation? I am more than slightly confused regarding how this argument can be justified.
The cost argument I can kind of begin to understand; however, the TTC has constantly faced an operational loss for the past decade. Perhaps trying something new is exactly what Toronto needs instead of something that the TTC needs to turn away. So far, the biking community agrees. Many have publicized their outrage on social media and across biking forums. While not everyone supported the TTC takeover, they most certainly do not want to say goodbye to Bixi.
So how can Toronto save this innovative practice that has found so much success in other parts of the world? Use the service. Use it frequently and make sure friends tag along. Instead of complaining about the TTC, celebrate Bixi and ensure that Torontonians understand what the loss of this system will mean for the city. Let’s bring Bixi back to life Toronto. Don’t miss out on fast and affordable transportation that could clear our streets of our world famous traffic jams.