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Bixi is dead. Long live Bixi

Despite its fatal business model, Bixi will survive, but it won’t be Bixi anymore.

The city has decided to take it over, handing the management of the troubled Montreal-based bike-sharing program to the Toronto Parking Authority until they can find a suitable management company with expertise in this area.

"One of the primary reasons Bixi is having trouble in Toronto is their business model was based on covering both the capital costs and the operating costs from operating revenue," says Daniel Egan, the city’s manager of cycling infrastructure. "It became pretty clear after a year that it wasn’t feasible."

As of Dec. 2, Bixi no is no longer connected to its parent company, and is wholly owned by the City of Toronto, which assumed its costs. The Parking Authority will run it until April when it hopes to have found a new manager, and when it will likely take a new name.

There is still a plan to expand the system by 22 stations net year, though moving north of Bloor is unlikely.

The handover is being funded, oddly, with $5 million that would have gone to paying for several public toilets pledged by a city media partner. This will cover a $3.6-million capital loan, with the extra $1.4 million being used for interim operating costs, and to contribute to a reserve fund that will pay for capital costs. The fund will also receive $70,000 annually from the city's transportation budget, and will be a recipient of so-called Section 37 money gathered by the city from property developers to fund city projects in the public interest.

Though Egan believes the program can be run better than it has been, he does not believe it can ever be profitable. "The goal is to break even," he says. "There's no illusion that it’s a money-maker. But we’re looking to make this program sustainable in the long term."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Daniel Egan
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