Montreal

Montrealers are trying Uber's new bikeshare program, but it hasn't got the jump on Bixi

After the first month of operation, unofficial data shows about 28,000 trips, well shy of Bixi's 1-million-plus in July.

After one month, unofficial data shows about 28,000 trips, well shy of Bixi's 1-million-plus in July

Unofficial statistics show the average length of Jump bike trips during the first month of operation was 21 minutes. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

After a month on Montreal's streets, unofficial data suggests people are riding Uber's red Jump bikes on a regular basis, although in numbers that are dwarfed by the Bixi rideshare system.

Also, someone rode one to Beaconsfield.

McGill geography professor Grant McKenzie has been scraping publicly available data since Jump's launch at the end of June. Using that information, he's produced estimates of where and how often the bikes are being ridden.

One highlight: usage peaks during evening rush-hour, which is expected, but not in morning rush-hour.

"[Riders] may be choosing to test out the Jump bike system to get from work to home, but they're not willing to make that sort of investment to get from home to work," McKenzie said.

There were about 28,000 Jump bike trips during the system's first month in Montreal. (Grant McKenzie/McGill University)

McKenzie's data recorded 27,812 total trips; an average of 927 per day. Wednesdays and Thursdays were the most popular days to use the bike.

People travelled an average distance of 2.5 kilometres. (McKenzie uses an algorithm to guess the routes people take; many riders may not take the most direct path.)

Though his calculations indicated the average trip duration was 21 minutes, McKenzie believes the figure is closer to 15 minutes. People are likely taking time to figure out the system and get familiar with the bike's electric motor, he said.  

No impact on Bixi's numbers 

McKenzie's data also suggests there are some riders who are spending a lot longer on the bikes than expected.

A few seemingly adventurous riders seem to have travelled to the north end of the island, as well as Beaconsfield and Montreal East — well beyond the designated service area.

(Jump charges riders $25 if they lock up a bike outside the designated zone, a geographical blob that incorporates central Montreal, runs from Verdun to Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and extends to Villeray and Rosemont.)

With only a few hundred bikes, Jump is not, at this point, a threat to Bixi, which is a non-profit corporation. 

If McKenzie's data is accurate, Jump's nearly 28,000 rides in its first month are tiny compared with Bixi, which had a record 1.1 million rides in July.

Jump's numbers are too small to statistically determine whether the Uber off-shoot has had an impact on Bixi. Weather and construction, McKenzie said, are "much bigger factors that contribute to Bixi's usage."

'It's hard to do better,' Bixi's Christian Vermette says of the bikeshare system's continued success. (CBC)

Bixi Montreal's general manager, Christian Vermette, agreed, saying the non-profit hasn't seen any impact from Jump.  

"We increased the equipment by 13 per cent and ridership by 15 per cent [this year]," he said. 

"It's hard to do better. We're confident that we have the best product."

With files from Jaela Bernstien

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