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City will take over Bixi bike-share program

The city will take over the Bixi bike sharing program, councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said at Toronto city hall on Wednesday.

“Nothing compares with the simple pleasure of a bike ride,” he told reporters, quoting John F. Kennedy.

“As of spring 2014, Toronto’s bike share program will be owned and operated by the Toronto Parking Authority.”

By the time the takeover is complete, the program will no longer be called Bixi. A new name has not been decided. Minnan-Wong said the TPA is looking for a “generous” sponsor who would receive naming rights.

City council accepted $5- million from Bell Media’s Astral Out-of-Home division through the City’s street furniture program to fund the takeover.  It comes out of the city’s already existing agreement with Astral to build 20 toilets in the city. So far, only two toilets have been built. The city and Astral agreed to scrap 11 of the remaining toilets, and Astral paid the city $5-million.

Lorne Persiko the TPA was asked why Bell was not the title sponsor.

“It will go to the highest bidder…we’d love to have Bell on board,” he said Wednesday.

The money will partially be used to pay Bixi’s outstanding capital debt of $3.7-million with National Bank of Canada.  It will also create a reserve fund for transition costs.

Minnan-Wong said cycling, especially over short distances, is the right thing to do. He also praised Bixi Toronto and its riders for easing congestion in the city.

“There have been 1.8-million trips since its 2011 inception – trips that would have added to our already busy roads,” he said.

“I expect and hope that the bike share program becomes an even more important part of the city’s transportation network.”

Bixi currently has about 1,000 bikes parked at 80 stations in downtown. The new program will expand to 102 stations.

Bixi was not given to TTC, Minnan-Wong said, because the transit agency had “too much on its plate.”

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