Bixi Toronto needs money. Or more bikes and stations. Or both. The program has not been able to repay its $4.8 million loan based on the terms initially established with the City of Toronto. Now, the deal is being restructured.
The program currently has about 1,000 bikes and 80 stations and, according to city officials, it has not been able to generate enough revenue to recover its operating costs on a day-to-day basis.
The Toronto Star reports that confidential instructions have been given to Deputy City Manager John Livey by Toronto Mayor Rob Ford to determine how to best approach the new deal. Livey is expected to report his findings at the Mayor’s July 3rd executive committee meeting.
It seems that the city is faced with only a handful of choices. It could restructure the loan to reduce payment intervals or cost per payment. Or it could further subsidize the system so that the program can feature more bikes and stations to better serve the population and, thereby, attract more members. Pulling the plug on the system doesn’t seem to be a viable option because the city is “…on the hook for millions of dollars,” as noted by Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of the public works and infrastructure committee.
Mayor Ford has expressed that he is opposed to putting more money into the system, while Bixi’s president Michel Philibert believes that expanding the system is the only way for the system to break even and for the city to recover its loan. Unfortunately, it seems that there is no easy way out for Bixi or the city.
What do you think the city should do? Let us know in the comment section below.