Toronto Bike Share gets new life with TD sponsorship
Toronto Parking Authority took full control of the service in April
Toronto's troubled bike-sharing program was thrown a lifeline Tuesday that will keep the service operational for at least two more years and potentially allow for further expansion throughout the city.
Mayor John Tory, alongside the head of the Toronto Parking Authority and an executive vice president of TD Bank Group, announced this morning that TD has sponsored the program.
The parking authority took full control of the bike-share program in April, when Bixi, the company that originally ran the service, was unable to pay out a multimillion dollar loan from the city. Since then, it has been unclear if the bike-share program could remain viable.
Lorne Persiko, the president of the TPA, declined to disclose the financial details of the sponsorship, including the full amount. But he did say it covers all operating costs and a static monthly fee that the TPA pays to run the program.
Persiko added that the TPA plans to build 20 new bike-share stations in 2015, most of which will be aimed at servicing transit demands during the Pan Am Games in July. He said he hopes 2016 will see an ever larger expansion but that new locations will be determined by density and access to other forms of transit.
There are currently about 1,000 bikes and 80 stations operational, mostly in the downtown core.
Tory applauded the partnership with TD and lamented that the city needs more agreements with private entities and unions to tackle some of its most pressing concerns.
"Great cities have an integrated transportation system that includes cycling," said Tory, adding that TD's involvement takes the burden off taxpayers.
When pressed by reporters about the ethical concerns surrounding corporate sponsorship of public holdings, he said he has no issue with it as long as it involves "a degree of class and a degree of restraint."
"We need the help. If people are willing to step up and are not asking too much for giving that help, why not?" he said.