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Bixi bike rack in Toronto's financial district April 30, 2013. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)
Bixi bike rack in Toronto's financial district April 30, 2013. (Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail)

TTC will not step in to save struggling Bixi bikeshare program Add to ...

Bixi Toronto, the bikeshare program floundering under a city loan debt, will most likely not be rescued by the Toronto Transit Commission.

A staff report to be brought forth at the commission’s meeting on Wednesday recommends the TTC not integrate Bixi into its services.

“BIXI is a bike-sharing program which is not part of the TTC’s core business of providing mass transit and would constitute a distraction from the TTC’s already-challenging mandate,” the report reads, while also highlighting Bixi’s financial difficulties, calling the program “not financially sustainable.”

Launched in the spring of 2011, the Bixi bikeshare program is no longer able to meet its debt payments, including a $3.9-million loan guaranteed by the city. Earlier this summer, Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee voted to send the issue back to city staff for a report on how to keep the program above water. The report will be presented to the committee at its next meeting in the fall.

City Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, an executive committee member, said the TTC was never a preferred option for saving the popular program.

“The TTC has a lot more pressing issues, like making their trains run on time and their buses run on time,” Mr. Minnan-Wong said. “They need to focus on core business and making that efficient before they look at other projects.”

As for how to keep Bixi from crashing and burning – which would cost the city its $4-million investment – Mr. Minnan-Wong had earlier proposed a unique idea: using money previously intended for high-tech public washrooms and reinvesting it into Bixi.

Mr. Ford has called the program a “failure,” but Mr. Minnan-Wong said the executive committee hopes the staff report will provide enough recommendations to find a solution to save the Bixi bikes.

“We’re looking for solution that’s going to address the program’s capital shortfalls while allowing for a modest expansion that can improve service but also bear additional revenue,” he said. “A lot of people want to save Bixi. They believe there’s a public good in having a public bike system.”

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