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Pricing favours repeat users under new Toronto bike-sharing program

The bicycles now branded under the name Bixi will be provided under a program called Bike Share Toronto, starting April 1, 2014.

Gloria Nieto/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's bike-sharing program is being revamped with a new name, logo and pricing policy that favours consistent users.

The bicycles now branded under the name Bixi will be provided under a program called Bike Share Toronto, starting Tuesday. They will be operated by a U.S. company, under the oversight of the city's parking authority.

The survival of the local bike-share program was called into question last year after Bixi acknowledged that it could no longer make payments on a $3.9-million loan it had been guaranteed by the city. With some politicians – notable among them Mayor Rob Ford – keen to allow bike-sharing to die, others argued that it was a key part of the city's public-transit offerings.

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Late last year, the city announced that they had covered the loan to Bixi by diverting money that was to have been used for high-tech toilets and taken control of the company. On Monday, the city revealed the revamped form that the program will now take.

"The city believes that it's important to the transportation system," Lorne Persiko, president of the Toronto Parking Authority, said by phone. "They market it as the last kilometre to your destination."

Among the changes, starting Tuesday the pricing will change to favour repeat users.

Annual memberships will drop to $90 from $97 and monthly memberships will be slashed to $18 from $41. Casual users will be hit a bit harder, though. A 24-hour pass will climb to $7 from $5 and a 72-hour pass will rise to $15 from $12.

Mr. Persiko said the cost changes were on the recommendation of Alta Bicycle Share, which runs such systems in a number of U.S. cities and will operate the new program in Toronto.

"They looked at the pricing system, compared it to their others, and felt that it was too high given the amount of usage we had," he said.

In a statement Monday rolling out the changes, the TPA said it will also begin offering corporate memberships, allowing local businesses and organizations to offer this at reduced cost to employees.

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The bike-share program has about 1,000 bikes spread among 80 storage stations.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified Lorne Persiko as the chief executive officer of the Toronto Parking Authority. In fact, he is president.

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