Bixi Toronto isn’t shutting down after all because toilets
Bixi Toronto, the bike-share service whose demise once seemed virtually assured (largely due to the financial missteps of its Montreal-based parent company), is back in business—and it’s all thanks to toilet money.
The city’s 20-year contract with Astral Media (which is now owned by Bell Media) called for the advertising company to install 20 automated public toilets around the city, only two of which have actually materialized so far. The self-cleaning washrooms are so ridiculously expensive that the city was able to convince Bell to pay $5 million in exchange for the right to build only nine of them. Toronto will use the remaining toilet money to take on Bixi’s $3.7 million in debt, and cover shortfalls during the search for a new private operator and a new lead sponsor. Everything but the Bixi name is expected to survive the transition, as the new sponsor will likely have naming rights.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong announced this news at a press conference earlier, noting that the Toronto Parking Authority will take over the administration of the Bixi program.
And there’s more good news for Bixi members: the City is planning on adding 22 more stations in 2014, for a total of 102. The precise locations have yet to be determined, but we’re hoping the stations will make more headway west of Bathurst, east of Parliament and north of Bloor.